ERIKA – ‘Onna-Bugeisha’ [Review]
Turning a first name into a brand name can be a risky proposition. On the one hand, it’s great for solo artists as it’s more personal than hiding behind a pseudonym – but on the other, it makes it very difficult for people to search for you online. There are many Erikas in the world – especially on Spotify, where you can find Erikas playing everything from acoustic folk standards to dark, brooding electronica, lounge jazz, and even six albums worth of accordion music. Google “Erika music” and the top hits are for a dermatology consultant (Dr Erika N. Music – I kid you not), a YouTube video featuring Nazi military music, and a list of still more artists named Erika who are, annoyingly, not the ERIKA (full caps) that we’re looking for.
Several miles down the list, however, lies Onna-Bugeisha. And it is here that the ERIKA we were looking for proves her superiority over her innumerable namesakes. Opener Wonderful is so catchy that it literally soundtracked my dreams after I paused writing this review last night; The Show is all brooding theatricality and high-pitched passion; Touch Me gets sensual and sensitive before bursting into full-blown cinematic epicness; Junkie (my personal favourite tune) ticks all the pop-rock boxes imaginable; and final tune Maybe rises and falls like 30 Seconds To Mars at their best.
ERIKA’s greatest strength is her ability to transcend barriers, whether it be the audience-artist gap in a live environment or, as here, the temporal and physical distances between the artist laying down tracks in the studio and the earphone-clad listener taking time out alone or rushing through a hectic morning commute. It’s impossible to not be swept up in a tidal-wave rush of drama, emotion, and intense (and occasionally ambivalent) passions. Zoom in on this music with full concentration and you can practically feel the experiences that inspired each song, each lyric, each note. And more than that, there’s a real sense of warmth and love present there too – something so often overlooked by performers in a world of technical precision and digitally enhanced perfection.
All of this contributes to a listening experience that, while still unable to match ERIKA’s live presence, offers the next best thing – and, of course, the chance to learn the lyrics to ERIKA’s songs so you can join in when she next passes through your town. Hopefully, you won’t have long to wait – and it had better not be long before Google deems ERIKA more relevant to music fans than skin doctors and anti-semites!
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