Photo: Dillon Howl
Though Wrestling is technically Australian singer-songwriter KUČKA's debut record, this is far from her first time assembling a project. Wrestling marks the English-born California-based artist's first project in six years, following in the footsteps of her genre-shifting EP Unconditional in 2015. Since then, KUČKA has acquired quite an impressive history of placements - she's worked with rappers from Kendrick Lamar to ASAP Rocky, and electronic pioneers like SOPHIE and Flume.
After winning a cornucopia of Australian awards for her music, she strayed away from solo music to work behind the scenes with other artists, returning in 2019 with her first solo single in years. After a handful of singles and loose tracks, KUČKA finally returns to the spotlight, delivering her long-awaited debut album Wrestling, and honestly, it was well worth the wait
For a record so heavily concerned with tension and anxiety, Wrestling sure does sound heavenly. Whether on the hard-hitting and abrasive outro to "Drowning," or the hypnotic and ethereal cut "Joyride," KUČKA's composition and songwriting talents are borderline unmatched. As if throwing every pre-established musical convention out the window, KUČKA provides fans with 12 electrifying singles that somehow balance experimentation and accessibility with a masterful precision.
Experimental records like this often have a tendency to feel like they are intentionally trying distinguish themselves for the sake of originality, but that is far from the case with Wrestling. KUČKA's artistic approach oozes natural creative talent, as tracks like "Eternity" harken back to the halcyon days of old, when I first heard FKA Twigs' LP1 for the first time.
The percussion is odd and unyielding at first, but underneath lies a clearly intentional dose of precision. Like a mechanical clock whose rules are known only by its creator, KUČKA bends incredibly dense sonic landscapes to her will, from the Grimes-meets-Blade Runner vibes on the titular "Wrestling" to the final moments of blissful distortion on "Patience".
Each track is polished tirelessly to perfection, flexing KUČKA's musical prowess at every moment. Whether you like to go out and listen to Ariana Grande, or sit in your room meditating to Merzbow, Wrestling is a masterclass in forward-thinking pop.
Listen to Wrestling below: