Kali Uchis: Red Moon in Venus album review – a sultry, hazy, lovesick trip

Kali Uchis  (Pr handout)
Kali Uchis (Pr handout)

The Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis doesn’t follow the herd. After making a breakthrough with her 2018 album Isolation and raising her profile with guest spots singing for Gorillaz, Kaytranada and Tyler, the Creator, she released a follow-up sung almost entirely in Spanish. Today, just after Bad Bunny’s Spanish language album Un Verano Sin Ti was named 2022’s biggest album worldwide, she’s singing in English again.

In any case, it doesn’t seem to matter how the 28-year-old communicates. Her last album overcame its language barrier and some confusing song titles – //aguardiente y limón %ᵕ‿‿ᵕ%, anyone? – to produce her biggest hit. Thanks to TikTok, Telepatía now has more than double the Spotify streams of any of her other songs, approaching 800 million.

Here, on her third album, she’s speaking the universal language of love. “Love between two human beings can be so wonderful,” she repeats in her soft, feline tones over the retro soul of Love Between. Explaining the astrology reference of the album title, she says her new music is a “burning expression of desire, heartbreak, faith, and honesty, reflecting the divine femininity of the moon and Venus.”

It’s also a sultry, hazy, trip, smothering its lovesick lyrics in echoing instrumentation and fluid, soulful basslines. Like Lana Del Rey, who Uchis has supported on tour, she has developed a slow-moving, distinctive sound world with no need to grab for an obvious pop hit, and is in no hurry to change the record. There’s no hot-blooded Latin drama here, no need for her to raise her voice. “That’s it. That’s the end of the song,” she says matter-of-factly as Fantasy finishes.

That can mean that Red Moon in Venus drifts by without registering any big moments. This music is lounging on a luxurious rug by a roaring fire, with no intention of getting up. Como Te Quiero Yo, one of two songs predominantly in Spanish, mixes cooing backing vocals with squelchy bass and a slow-motion piano line. I Wish You Roses, the single, is smouldering bedroom pop. “My petals are soft and silky as my sheets,” she breathes.

The mood is punctured briefly when she makes a mild approach to the dancefloor on the cotton wool disco of Happy Now, and the bass becomes weightier on Endlessly. But the songs are short, often over in less than three minutes. It feels like the music is meant to be taken as one lavish, romantic, highly appealing whole.