There’s no denying that some of the strangest periods in history have produced the most intriguing and amazing music the pop genre has ever known, and in 2020, there’s definitely an interesting wave of players coming out of the woodwork amid unconventionality at its most inconvenient and unavoidable. Leni Black chose this October to drop her debut single “Barcelona Butterflies,” and unlike a lot of her rivals in the American underground, hers isn’t a track taking on the social and political ills of a seemingly endless pandemic. Instead of giving us what we’re all expecting to hear out of a young pop songwriter, Black gets really personal from the start and unravels what ultimately feels like the first chapter of a story that is hers and hers alone.
We’re only getting to know one side of her artistry in “Barcelona Butterflies,” and yet it’s too stimulating a listen for us to believe that it won’t be the first of many installments in her discography. Some people were made for the studio, and while I’m just now finding out about Leni Black, she gives me that kind of a vibe in her very first single.
If you’re looking for heavy gloss in a pop song, you’re going to have to surf the radio because “Barcelona Butterflies” is entirely filler-free. Even in a couple of spots that could have potentially benefited from the neon edge of a mainstream sound, it’s clear to me that Black wanted to keep things relatively stoic and subdued for her debut – as is the case with all who tend to be loyal to a classic indie ethos. Overall, this mix didn’t need any of the overproduced frills that some others would mostly because of how well defined every part of the instrumentation and the vocal are. I would have liked a little more from the piano and a little less from the bassline, but it’s an excusable flaw if I’ve ever come across one in this genre before. The main star of this show is the intimate feeling emanating from the lyrics, and though it’s one that clearly seems geared towards tugging at our heartstrings, it isn’t so emotional that it starts to sound saccharine towards the climax.
To be honest, I haven’t been much for a lot of the alternative pop singer/songwriter content I’ve heard out of the mainstream in 2020, but in the underground, the likes of Leni Black are keeping more discriminating listeners occupied through originality and outright sonic spunk. There’s some physicality to the music here that I want her to use more in her next project, and if she’s able to find some initial success with “Barcelona Butterflies,” I don’t see why it wouldn’t make sense for her to get started on a full-length album in 2020. She has some of the strongest college radio appeal you could ask for in this single, and with a little more grooming, I don’t see anything getting in her path from here on out.
by Bethany Page