On a muggy Friday night following her Brooklyn debut, LA singer-songwriter WENS drops her debut EP, That Really Long Night, a refreshing blend of R&B and alt-electronic that stretches across the confines of genres. Currently on her tour with Now, Now, WENS is an emerging artist with a unique approach to her composing, drawing upon a variety of music styles to create a unique sound. Raised on the south side of LA, she began singing at eight and writing songs at 13. Now 19, she produces music under the name WENS, and has been steadily gaining popularity since the release of her first single, Bones, back in 2016. This release takes a different route than what we’re used to seeing from WENS, however, and is more stripped down, intimate, gritty— while still clinging to the confines of electro-R&B. With this EP, WENS solidifies her place in the up-and-coming indie world, and builds upon the existing wave of indie-electronic, whilst adding her own R&B flair.
Lead single ‘Take’ is a strong start to the EP; it’s simple, a delicate voice in such somber ambience, until the production elements kick in at the chorus and fill out the space. It’s R&B vocals with a chillwave accompaniment, a pleading, airy falsetto that tries to escape an unyielding sense of uncertainty, but in the end falls victim to it. A guitar holds down the entire track, dark and intense, yet her vocals feel inviting, honest, light. Much like ‘Call’ (the EP’s second lead single), it bares it all with honest, sultry lyrics, relying on its largely personal nature to get across its point. ‘Call’, however, serves as an interlude of sorts: it takes the ambience of the other songs and delivers the same bite— but that’s all it borrows. It doesn’t need the sprawling electronics to pack the heavy punch it wants. While it’d be ambitious to say this is the most visceral track on the EP, it certainly is the most raw, relying solely on small ambient noise and her somber vocals to carry the entire song.
‘Romantic’ is another interlude of sorts (well, despite being the second song on the EP), but this time in terms of lyrical content. It’s the only time her thoughts aren’t at the mercy of someone else, and WENS takes the reins of this song completely; she is in control. It offers another side of her, presenting her as a powerful young woman with a strong sense of self worth, freed from the clutches of someone else. Yet, ‘Her’ dives right back into the emotional whirlpool, establishing an emotional connection before losing the listener in sprawling electronics. The most heavily produced song on the EP, it showcases WENS ability to switch from an almost acoustic sound, where her voice and a single instrument carry the track, to a heavily-produced one; her voice easily finds itself amongst the production elements isn’t lost on the change, proving she’s versatile and adaptable to anything.
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This EP boasts a wealth of relatable material, especially for anyone who’s ever been in a toxic relationship yet was tricked, by their own mind or otherwise, into believing they need this person, that they’re their “lucky charm”. The pacing of the EP felt right, and was mercifully unburdened by unnecessary fillers and lyric-less interludes. Everything about this release, from the lyrical content to the amount of songs felt succinct, like it had a point to drive across and did so quickly. The theme of the EP is clear (heartbreak and its aftermath), and as a whole it seems to follow a pattern similar to the five stages of grief. She first acknowledges there is a problem on ‘Take’, gives in anyway on ‘Romantic’, denies the situation on ‘Her’, wishes it was different on ‘Reasons’ and ‘Call’, and accepts that this person is her weakness on ‘Bottles’. For her first extended release, WENS was remarkably deliberate; with both placement and content, she managed to make each song feel like it was meant to be placed where it was, to be listened to by whomever was listening. It’s rare to see this level of polishedness from a very new artist; she’s only started two years ago and it’s clear she’s been honing her craft all this time. She can attract even the most casual of listeners with lyrical content well beyond her years, dealing with emotional trauma hopefully foreign to anyone under seventeen.
If you think this EP is great, it’s even better live. WENS is currently on tour with Now, Now, and we recently caught them at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, a review of which you can read here.
That Really Long Night is out now via nowucme.