Riding a rhythmic strand of melodic ribbonry out of the shadows and into the spotlight with a fine, almost surreal moxie that has become a hallmark of modern musical wizardry, Icielani isn’t playing any of the stereotypical games some audiences have come to expect out of contemporary pop music in her new single “Controlar (Spanglish Version).” Instead, she’s cutting out the fluff and filler and focusing all of her attention on the cultivation of a sexy harmony, and although it’s not the lone example of well-organized decadence inside of her discography, this is certainly one of the more sophisticated to have debuted in the last year. 2020 has been full of surprises, but greatest among them all could be just how well the underground pop beat – and specifically Latinx players like Icielani – has continued to generate sonic charisma. 

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While the beat is a main point of focus in this song, I would hardly say it’s the lone element stirring up a bit of eroticism on the back half of the master mix. The bassline, as subtle as it is here, has an important role in imparting a bit of reggae-inspired swing into the track whilst still leaving enough room for the lead vocal to shape the mood of the music more than anything else is. It took a meticulous hand, and when analyzing the arrangement here I’m forced to conclude that Icielani is an artist who prioritizes understated intricacies many of her rivals would just as soon overlook. Hers is an invasive approach to songcraft, but it’s one I could really use more of in my life just the same. 

As much as I could go on and on about the instrumental and compositional complexities that make “Controlar (Spanglish Version)” such a difficult track to put down once it’s been picked up for the first time, there’s no point in arguing; the vocal Icielani is putting down in this all-new single is undeniably reason enough for you to give it a dedicated listen this November. Her voice seems perfectly matched with the fragile essence of the narrative and, more importantly, the cold vibes emitted from the framework of the hook. It’s easy to see where another singer would have made this sound like a completely different song (though not in a good way), and that’s partly why I think it’s high time this artist start getting some of the credit for originality she’s long deserved. 

Icielani employs a cautious but ultimately forward-thinking assault on the mainstream model in “Controlar (Spanglish Version)” that is almost guaranteed to win the affections of her followers right out of the box, and for those who are just now discovering her music for the very first time, I think this is a good single to serve as a jumping off point to the rest of her growing discography. She’s not muzzling her melodic capabilities for anything here, and to me, I think this is evidence enough to suggest the best is still yet to come for her brand. 

Michael Rand

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