Last weekend Lithuanian singer Vilija Matačiūnaitė performed an unplugged acoustic/jazz set in London’s Cargo Bar, and this seemed as good an excuse as any to give her latest album a listen.
Attention! is an interesting album which shows off Vilija’s diversity not just as a performer but as a musician, with each track either being written entirely or co-written by Vilija herself. The album toys with a variety of different styles; hip hop, rock, funk, dance, chillout and rap while still keeping an overall electronic pop theme. Despite these differing musical styles, or perhaps because of them each track in Attention! flows into the next with ease.
The album opens with Imaginary which would easily pass for a Swedish pop ballad if you only heard the chorus; however the verses pulse with a sense of urgency which gives the track a much more raw feeling. Indeed Vilija’s phrasing in the verses feels somewhat haphazard giving the uplifting message in the lyrics a somewhat more sinister feeling.
By contrast we have an electro funk number in Keep it to the Beat which wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Daft Punk album if it weren’t for the frequent handclaps. There is also something reminiscent of Skamp’s ‘You Got Style’ when Lithuanian rapper Medonas comes in for a rap interlude. The whole track is rather fun and bouncy and leads rather nicely into the titular track Attention, which of course Vilija took to Eurovision. Attention is a song that I think most fans did not understand within the Eurovision context, but as part of Vilija’s album the song works. Situated in between the fun of Keep it to the Beat’s funk styling and Lithuanian language electro-chillout track Leisk Ir Vėl (feat. Corby) the urgency and roughness of Vilija’s vocals really stand out and give a new appreciation to Attention.
One of the most unusual tracks on the album is the rock inspired Never Never. With spoken word verses that remind of ‘Pepper’ by American band Butthole Surfers and sung choruses, Viljia lyrically flips the bird to all the haters in her most profanity ridden song on the album. Russian language track Vechnost’s harsh industrial electronic beats combined with a slow tempo and husky vocals invoke a sense of isolation and really emphasise the grittiness of Viljia’s style of singing.
However just when you think you’ve figured out the style of this album, you encounter the mid tempo dance track I Need Your Love (feat. One Element) where Vilija combines power notes with soft, breathy erotically charged vocals. The album is played out with a fun, light and cheeky stripped back electric guitar version of Attention which feels like it’s tinged with just a small amount of Jazz influences and is the perfect way to end an otherwise high energy album.
Vilija’s second studio album feels very influenced by the wide array of music that was dominant in the 90’s with a modern twist. Having met Vilija on a number of occasions I can attest that she has a certain energy about her (check out interviews with her here and here to see what I mean). Perhaps because of this I can feel how much of Vilija herself is in this album. From the anger of Never Never to the vulnerability of Days this album is Vilija personified. Personal bias aside, this is a very well thought out album with plenty of diverse sounds to keep you interested, while keeping an overall coherency and theme and I think those that did not give Vilija a chance in Copenhagen might be pleasantly surprised by this offering.
Highlights: Never Never, Vechnost’, Attention (Original Acoustic Version).
Attention can be purchased on iTunes here.