highlights from the NYC singer's surreal listening party
Monolithic chrome sculptures glow under blue lights. Twentysomethings in bucket hats perch on black bleachers that are decorated with cacti and other foliage, exhaling thick clouds of white smoke from their personal vaporizers. A tropical beat throbs through the summer night as condensation drips down the aluminum side of the energy drink that I picked up at the bar. It seemed like a scene from a space station rave, but it was actually the Museum of Art and Design, where "pop star slash muse" Lauren Devine was holding the listening party for her debut album, FolkLaur.
Devine emerged on the scene in 2012 as Dis Magazine's musical muse when she put out her playful, seductive video for "Just a Little Ready." Since then, her music career has gone global, literally, recording on beaches around the world and performing at trendy parties in Los Angeles and Miami Art Basel. Her songs pair over-the-top club beats with Auto-Tuned vocals, and the result is infectiously good. Even if it doesn't make you dance, it'll probably make you smile.
Stream: Lauren Devine's folkLaur
Equal parts reggaeton and Britney Spears' Femme Fatale, Devine's FolkLaur is a bold evolution of her style. At nine tracks in length, the album features the likes of Ryan Trecartin, Akeem Smith, Night Feelings, and Bruno Coviello of Light Asylum. Saturated with tropical beats and dubstep-y production, FolkLaur is a journey into a surreal world of sexuality and smoke rings. "The theme of the album is love," Devine explained at the event. "With the sub-theme being aggression." That aggression finds a voice on tracks like "Luv U Far" and the next single, "Call Me Up," in which Devine sings about complicated relationships and bicoastal sexting. But what truly defines Folklaur is the overarching reggaeton feel, influenced by Devine's time in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. "It's a very hot album," she said later. "Especially 'That Sweat,' which is about cleansing your energy through sweating."
As the party drew to a close, Devine took to the mic, calling everyone to gather around her. Glistening in a white tank top, with her freshly-dyed brown curls tumbling down her back, she launched into an "unplugged" rendition of "Trysexual," a clubby banger about sexual experimentation. The track translated surprisingly well to live guitar. Afterwards, I spoke with Lauren for a few minutes. "My style has definitely matured," she told me. "I actually want to make a grunge album next. I still like pop music, but I'm definitely feeling guitars lately." Whatever Lauren has in store next, it's sure to be as Devine as the girl herself.