Debby Friday – GOOD LUCK

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best albums of 2023 Debby Friday Good Luck

Debby Friday made her debut with the appropriately titled Bitchpunk, a brief but potent sampling of the Nigerian-born, Toronto-based artist’s outsized creativity and stylistic unpredictability. As genre names go, it’s about as good as it gets for a set as ferocious, bratty and ominous as that one, connecting the dots between trap, house, industrial and digital hardcore. But Friday made a lot of progress in just a year’s time, releasing her next EP Death Drive through Los Angeles label Deathbomb Arc, once home to JPEGMAFIA and her current labelmates clipping., in the process opening her sound up to elevated levels of menace and imagination in equal measure. By the end of 2019, she had released less than an hour of music, but the possibilities of her abrasive, undefinable music seemed limitless.

Friday makes her Sub Pop debut with GOOD LUCK, her first full-length album and most fully realized set of songs to date. The abrasion and urgency of her early EPs remains, but the 10 songs here lean more heavily toward the pulse of the club—and often a vampiric underground den at that, as evident on standouts like the sinister rumble and squeal of “Hot Love.” Friday more openly embraces pop on her debut album, but rarely does so outside the presence of the shadow and mystique her music so often casts.

GOOD LUCK is in large part composed of much of the same elements that defined her first pair of EPs—industrial, techno, darkwave, hip-hop and experimental club music—but applied to an even stronger, more outsized set of songs bolstered by an even bigger personality. We’re dropped directly into an atmosphere of tension and menace with the slow-lurch of the title track, an oozing dirge that finds Friday warning, “Don’t you fuck it up.” The frantic BPMs of “I Got It” provide a strobing backdrop for her list of third-person aliases and party rocking catch-phrases: “Freaky Friday/Debby Doomsday/Debby Heat… let mama give you what you need.” Friday’s a big enough personality to live up to the all-caps album title, but when indulging in a little nuance, she can prove just as compelling. On the goth-blues of “What A Man,” a sinister song both doomed and seductive, Friday sings as if from the perspective of the ill-fated woman in so many public-domain folk songs, the song’s title ending up as the punchline and punctuation of each verse.

As Friday fleshes out her hostile sonic creations into more structured anthems, she embraces pop more explicitly, and in so doing stretches out her vocal muscles even more. On “So Hard to Tell,” she moves up an octave on a banger of a pop song that contains the album’s brightest hooks, while she untangles her own innate tendency to go against the grain: “All you do is rebel/Time go ‘tick tick tick’/And you just can’t help yourself.” There’s a more ominous crawl to “Let U Down,” a longer and more industrial-tinged dirge, but here Friday continues to push her range, singing, “I been your Brutus, your Judas / I’ve been so wrecked and so ruthless.” There’s conviction and power driving her litany of regrets.

Though Debby Friday’s music is often a moving target, alternately explosive and tense, abrasive or luminous, the common thread is Debby herself—a personality that’s confident, brash and bigger than even the vast stylistic ground she covers. And while there’s no readymade genre to define that hybrid of sounds and textures, GOOD LUCK is a cohesive and singular work regardless. Though Friday has her own suggestion for what we might call it; in a 2018 interview she said, “I would describe my music as ‘thunder’.” Behold its mighty roar.

Label: Sub Pop

Year: 2023

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