Photo: Miranda Barnes
"This isn't the album. It's the Avant-Garden," shares rising bedroom R&B sensation Dounia on releasing her latest project unto the world. The matter-of-fact statement serves as the only introduction to a mesmerizing 10-song collection that sees the Queen and Moroccan - raised artist at the top of her game.
The sophomore project, which follows Dounia's 2017 debut EP, Intro To, is a textbook lesson in crafting an inescapable vibe that you cannot help but want to lose yourself in. Blending sentiments of listless bedroom-pop evoking production with confidently-delivered spells of R&B vocal grace, Dounia weaves through The Avant-Garden's twists and turns with an effortless grace. The opening track, "King of Queens (Intro)," strays the line between classic R&B and moments of rap you would expect to find on a Princess Nokia record. Yet, a few tracks later, you have "Hard Candy," a resoundingly delicate balance of sultry R&B and romantic introspection.
Dounia's innate talent for embodying a host of moods is one of her and The Avant-Garden's strongest feats. It is a feat she largely accomplishes herself, outside the previously released Kehlani-collaboration "Rich Girl Mood" and the Breakfast n Vegas - assisted "If U Wanna." The latter of which brings one of the project's most striking moments.
Preceded by "Ice Cubes," a hypnotic fusion of deep house and R&B aesthetics, Dounia jumps into the equally danceable "if U Wanna" to deliver a back-to-back bout of club-ready ecstasy. Throughout an expansive showing of moods and genres, Dounia never loses sight of herself. Rather, she has presented a cohesive project with a wide and impressive breadth of range. The Avant-Garden is a sonic playground rife for exploration.
Listen to The Avant-Garden below: