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Monday, January 14, 2008

Darling Nikki

No homo, but this is pretty much how it feels to read your first published piece
DJ Deckstream
"Five Alarm (Featuring Nikki Jean)" [From the Soundtracks LP]
Manhattan Records
2007

While certainly an asset in many other regards, physical beauty can also be a bit of a liability, not to mention a major distraction. As men, we are willing to give any big butt and smile a pass, even if the girl in question is poison like BBD's first cassette. Having said as much, Nouveau Riche frontwoman Nikki Jean, who just might have the world’s most radiant smile, could have a voice like Tay Zonday after a root canal and your average red-blooded male would still never notice. But as "Five Alarm" thankfully displays, the Minnesota native is quite the formidable songstress.

Over Japanese producer DJ Deckstream’s breezy keys and pretty-eyed flutes, Ms. Jean gets intimate with lines like, "There are smoke and mirrors/But you’re clearer when you’re in my dreams/Walking in the door, I know you came to talk me out my jeans." The vibe here is sultry, with a cozy '80s afterglow suggestive of Promise-era Sade, and, come to think of it, Ms. Jean indeed has a flair for steamy philosophical wine bar noodlings and cool, catchy hooks. But whereas Ms. Adu always had an undercurrent of grief in her smoke-tinted tenor—like a newly acquired blemish that causes one to look more attractive than before—Ms. Jean, rather, possesses a sort of knowing, smiling sanguinity that, despite the song's overall theme of loneliness, is always there on the periphery. When she pleads, "Please come if you can," you feel her desperation, but you also feel her coolness and you know that she'll make it out all right. Maybe because she's so damn fine.

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