Exciting, energetic, powerful, daring, passionate and confident. Those are just some of the words commonly associated with rouge. So it should be no surprise that those are many of the common themes explored on Malaysian Pop artist Yuna’s latest album, Rouge.
Released through Verve Forecast it’s the singer’s most daring, passionate, empowering and confidentiality assertive album to date. Showing how she can make an album for the brokenhearted, while also still making fun and coherently easy to listen to Pop and R&B that shows the many layers it takes to be a worldwide Pop superstar.
Starting with the very dreamy and elegant wave strings section of the opening track, Castaway. Yuna with her velvety and dreamy voice sings about a love she’s so far from now it feels like, “A castaway.” Tyler, the Creator, who’s featured on the record adding the perfect guest verse for the very smooth and Summer feeling track. That then perfectly segues into the very fun, intoxicating and vibey, yet empowering futuristic G-Eazy featured, Blank Marquee. Which Yuna said was inspired by the futuristic feel of the late 80’s and early 90’s the music.
By far one of the best records on the whole album is the funky subtle-but-effective kiss-off track, (Not) The Love Of My Life. A record that really shows Yuna’s emotional growth with the way she emanciates each lyric like it’s spoken word. The toned-down marimba beat helping making her message of the person she’s singing about not be, the one, for her, even more clear. Yuna makes the heartbreak anthem you will hear most women singing along to for a while in the very emotional, Teenage Heartbreak. A very slow and allurely burning J. LBS-produced backdrop providing the perfect fit for the singer’s, “classic mistake” tale of all the downfalls one goes through while being young and in love. With the infuation of it blinding you to keep making that same mistake over and over.
The album then shifts away from those heartbreak records into the empowering and fun female empowerment anthem, Pink Youth. A very upbeat and empowering record that features British rapper Little Simz and really has a nostalgic 80’s-influenced dance beat that truly helps bring the empowering lyrics for the younger generation it’s meant for, even more to life.
Showing the many different new sounds Yuna goes through on the album, the next track, Forget About You, is a more sinister sounding record. As the singer sings more lyrics blaming her hurt on her younger years in this dark post-breakup song. The combination of anger and confusion really pushing her towards the edge of categorizing those youthful mistakes as, “growing pain,” like she does in a lot of lyrics throughout the album. The KYLE-assisted, Likes, is a perfectly timed record that speaks to the detrimental components presented in social media and what they really equate to in real life. But just seem to not be executed right and fit out-of-place on the album.
Things get back on track with The Fisticuffs-produced, Amy. A wistfully soulful and jazzy record that with the vocal great harmonies from Yuna and jazzy horns from Masego, provide the perfect backdrop. As she tells her sweet story about a girl so eager to grow up and leave home from the point of a starry-eyed admirer. The Jay Park featured, Does She, meanwhile is one of those records that you hate, but love and you could ultimately really do without cause of it being a more filler type track.
Yuna really closes out the album strong though with, Forevermore and Tiada Ahkir. The rain drops from the Robin Hannibal-produced closer providing the perfect backdrop, as she sings so beautifully in her native Malay, the beautifully touching lyrics about a love story that has no end. The perfect end to an incredible album that showed how much Yuna has grown as an artist and person, who has plenty more greatness to still provide us. With this just the beginning of that great growth and journey.