In another world, minus the music, Kaya Wilkins, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Norway producer and songwriter, could use her Okay Kaya performance model to do edgy stand-up material. (She comes to Cafe Du Nord Mon/9.) You know, in those alt-comedy rooms run by particular nerds who riff about streaming services, travel dehydration, nut allergies and eating burritos solo.
Wait. Those types of obsessions actually do sound like Watch This Liquid Pour Itself, Wilkins debut record for the Jagjaguwar imprint, and her follow-up to 2018ʻs Both. This time around, the one-liners about humdrum normalcy—and shedding the skin of bedding down with a basic dude and his several alter-egos—keeps hitting weird but true regions of freakish believability.
Stating in the press that music has been in her life since a pre-teen, this autodidact picked up the guitar after listening to Cody Chesnutt and later took residence in a black metal outfit. Hey, itʻs Norway, Holmes.
This project is the culmination of collaborating with producers Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and John Carroll Kirby whoʻs worked with Solange and Kali Uchis, but Kaya is calling the shots on this record.
First song in, “Baby Little Tween”, finds Wilkins coming out the gate, guns hot: “I ride the mood/ Baby little tween/ Mood riding/ Riding on your dick/ The only vice I’ve left/ I will get sick of it/ Still smoke cigarettes/ Look at the internet.”
As per mentioned in the liner notes this “Sade for nihilists” 15-song assemblage morphs from soft-rock, lite R&B, synth new wave, dart-disco, sing-along pop with slight electronic notions. The hat tips align sonically with Nite Jewel, Liz Phair, Cowboy Junkies, Janis Ian, Bjork, and Salami Rose Joe Lewis. But the message is a long-form constant poke in the eye to Millennials from a Twitter-savvy shit-starter.
Bad Relationship? Enter the lovers’ rock groove of “Insert Generic Name” with “Stacy/ It really sucks to be your girlfriend/ Although youʻre an adequate boyfriend/ Iʻm suddenly the center of resentment in your harem.”
Want a report from the front lines of a mental institution? Cue up “Psych Ward,” the cold shit reality uptempo rocker sing along: “You can peel an orange anyway you want in the psych ward/ Throw away the cup, you better swallow the pill in the psych ward.”
Things not going well in the bedroom of a longtime relationship? Fire up the old synths of “Asexual Wellbeing” where lines like “sex with me is mediocre” eventually pair off with “I just want to do well as Jon Bon Joviʻs Rose.”
So yes, we finally get these are jokes. It’s hard to deny the facility at work putting these cutting jams together, each engendering a different type of genre to act out contemporary ennui, producing entry after entry of Kayaʻs character reading of a bummer situation. Wilkins’ engrossment with Weird Al Yankovich satire via the pop song grants that kind of humor to flourish, but itʻs coming from weirdly “truthy”
Thatʻs the vulnerability, providing access to her audience, laughing through the tears.
Mon/9, 7:30pm, $15-$17
Cafe Du Nord, SF.
Tickets and more info here.