According to astrologers and ancient mythology, a blood moon, or red moon, is a bad omen, a harbinger of natural disasters, economic catastrophes, or the death of a great patron. Fortunately, a red moon is a rare thing: a full moon in a total lunar eclipse, its deep, rusty glow reminding us that perfect alignments are rare. It is this emblem of fiery intensity and divinity that guides the genre-defying Colombian-American pop star Kali Uchis through Red Moon on Venustheir third studio album and second mostly sung in English.
Uchis has spent the better part of the last decade redefining the boundaries of Latin pop music. He perfected a blend of R&B and pop on his critically acclaimed debut. Isolationthen he took that expansive versatility to the left on the Spanish album Fearless (of Love and Other Demons) ∞, where he prescribed love as a powerful anti-anxiety medication. Watching his psychedelic lounge spirit evolve into confident, moody pop has been fascinating; a generation of fans has fallen under the spell of his nostalgic experimental music. She’s like a modern La Lupe: she channels music across cultures with a timeless aesthetic that allows her to fit any idea into her singular vision.
Red Moon on Venus delights in the most sublime sounds of Uchis’ career. It’s a fantastic record, illustrating exuberant, lovesick vignettes and feminine escapism without relinquishing control. Birdsong, blooming flowers and professions of love spice up “In My Garden” and lead single “I Wish you Roses,” two tender devotionals that ignite the album’s faithful vision of love. The first half of the album progresses like the early stages of a relationship: endless, cloying, absorbing. “You want to pamper me in every way / It’s Valentine’s like every day,” she sings herself on top of the pop-funk standout “Endless.” Pink glasses? In. But only for a while.
Even in the album’s most picturesque moments, Uchis never loses his grip on reality, intent on exploring despair just as intensely. “Fantasy,” featuring R&B star and Uchis romantic partner Don Toliver, is an Afropop dance number that ends the infatuation seen on the first half of the record. The song explores love at its most sensual and carefree: “On my body/Don’t let go/I just want the fantasy,” Uchis pleads. But then he abruptly interrupts, “That’s it, that’s the end of the song, come on baby let’s go home,” declaring the honeymoon phase over. The R&B kiss goodbye “Deserve Me” is based on the understanding that it is better to be alone than to remain in a toxic situation. The rippling, Tame Impala-esque psychedelia of “Moral Conscience” rests on a wise, scornful prediction: “When you’re alone / You’ll know you were wrong.” Uchis maintains his tall sultry composure throughout, allowing the idyllic production to support what should be moments of deep anger. She is calm and collected because she knows that a better love awaits her.