NIKI Produces a Stunning Debut Album with MOONCHILD
“Mirroring three phases of the moon as a metaphor for personal growth, the album reflects on life’s biggest transitions.”
Nicole Zefanya, who goes under the moniker of NIKI released her stunning debut album, MOONCHILD on September 10. A concept album based on the phases of the moon, it follows the story of “the Moonchild” journeying through a fictional realm. Mirroring three phases of the moon as a metaphor for personal growth, the album reflects on life’s biggest transitions.
A crescent moon represents the first phase, which deals with the wonder and optimism of childhood. From the first track “Wide Open (Foreword)” we get a little taste of the orchestral arrangements that add to the cinematic soundscape. Bright sounds and lyrics that could characterize the energy of teenage years characterize this section (“The night is young and it’s wild, I’m running free like a child”). Bouncing instrumentals on “Nightcrawlers” gives it a childlike feel.
After 4 tracks, the moon is overshadowed by an eclipse to symbolize the loss of innocence. There is a slight shift from the upbeat production to something darker, like a creature hiding in the shadows. Even the vocals are distorted on “Tide,” giving an otherworldly feel. The other two songs in the section, “Pandemonium” and “Lose” see the return of lightness to NIKI’s voice, while still keeping the sombre tone of the act. “Lose” is one of the best vocal performances on the album, with a piano accompaniment that allows NIKI to flex her capabilities.
After the eclipse the moon is back, this time in the form of a full moon. Themes of self-actualization and resolution creep their way in, with the style of the previous two acts blending together for the most mature few songs on the release. A personal favorite, “Plot Twist” opens the third Act, showcasing a return of hope and embracing the unpredictability of life. The album concludes with “Drive On,” an uneventful, yet hopeful, track that wraps up the album nicely.
The lyrics are not as straightforward as some of NIKI’s previous songs, but instead weave a complex universe for the Moonchild. The utilization of production creates a soundscape that draws you into this mystical world. Whispers can be heard at the end of songs, reminding me of fairies in a dark forest. Listeners of MOONCHILD go on a journey themselves and reflect on life and changes they have gone through.
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