Review: Ibeyi – Ibeyi

Folklore has it that there’s something a little spooky about twins, and Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz use this to incredible, uncanny advantage in their debut album

There’s so much going on in Ibeyi’s self-titled debut, but the French sisters handle their heady mix with truly impressive restraint. Drawing upon their father’s heritage they weave Yoruba-inspired (a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being taken to Cuba) rhythms into a fabric of old and new; influences from jazz, soul and hip-hop emerge and fade. They made a mix-tape recently, featuring everything from Nina Simone to Earl Sweatshirt – it explains a lot.

Through stripped back piano, impeccably constructed percussion and multilingual lyrical harmonies, the sisters conjure an absorbing, spiritual world. Single Mama Says invites us into the complexities of family, Ghosts is a swelling, goosebump-raising hymn and Stranger / Lover could fill a floor as easily as it’ll break hearts.

The album is polished with Richard Russell’s by now trademarked XL-produced gloss, but it doesn’t lose anything in translation: there’s a real sense of space, of being unrushed, and it’s delicious. In case you were wondering, Ibeyi (Yoruba for ‘twins’) is pronounced “ee-bey-ee.” It’s a name you’ll need this year.

First published by The Skinny