It’s almost as if we’re awaking from a long slumber when the glittery synthesized melody of “Practice 4 Me” comes to life in the song’s opening instrumental salvo. Singer Mati Lyons doesn’t lollygag in the background for very long; by the nine second mark in the track, she’s belting out a vibrant verse that is colorized in a spellbinding melancholic blue. She’s ably supported by a blushing bassline that, slowly but surely, becomes a tidal wave of emotion that is as tuneful and harmonious as the synths are. In a year where so many pop singers have been leaning on the postmodern and using sonic smokescreens to hide behind, Mati Lyons is out on the front lines in “Practice 4 Me,” showing us what she’s made of and proving to be a lot more talented than the average rookie recording artist is.
The verses swirl around us in a kaleidoscopic haze, and in their cerebral glow take on a translucence that is balanced out perfectly by the textures in the instrumentation. The word “acrylic” comes to mind when trying to describe the rigidity in the beats, but I wouldn’t say that they’re robotic at all. If anything, they provide a smooth foundation for Lyons to, in contrast, cut loose and throw all of her passions into the execution of her lyrics. It’s a very progressive concept, but it doesn’t seem halfheartedly constructed from any angle. My gut tells me that Mati Lyons has spent the better part of her life preparing for this career, and her close attention to the subtlest of details here is evidence supporting as much.
In the chorus, all of the coy crooning breaks away to reveal a quaking, climactic hook that demonstrates just how big a blaze Lyons can ignite when she’s firing on all cylinders and there’s nothing to get in the way of her reaching the audience. The refrain is a bit muted, but it’s not the minimalist drone that I’ve come in contact with far too many times this month. Between those snapping fingers and the immaculately arranged synth, there’s a wall of sound that is big and bold enough to crush us in “Practice 4 Me,” and it is only through the sublimely harmonic handiwork of Mati Lyons that we manage to avoid its devastating wallop.
As the song comes to a conclusion and fades into the silence once again, this time on the whim of one final lyrical lashing from Lyons, I drew a conclusion that I’ve yet to sway from. “Practice 4 Me” isn’t a club song, and yet it’s got a supremely danceable beat that doesn’t back down for even an instant in the nearly three minutes of running time that the track lasts, and while it’s as melodic as a classic pop song would be, it’s got an edginess that tethers it to hip-hop in more ways than one. The bottom line? Mati Lyons’ debut is a hybridity through and through, and for what it lacks in commercialized pretentiousness, it more than makes up for in smashingly seductive songwriting.
by Bethany Page
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