One of the more liberating qualities to modern music is that you can always delve into a different style or genre if you want to. It’s a great way to jump-start your creativity, and it can also lead to some unique music by exploring a particular style from an unconventional perspective. Such is the case today with Yulianna, a immensely talented operatic singer who’s second pop release, Popra came out last week.
The title “Popra” could sound gimmicky if Yulianna wasn’t so invested in the idea, but that’s what the album is: a thorough synthesis of darker electro-pop and operatic arrangements. The songs are “pop” in that they incorporate dance, R&B, and hip-hop elements, but the majority of them are from-the-ground-up opera compositions, just check out the extended piano intro to “Love” for an example. “Love” is a moody, atmospheric track with a gothic tinge that reminds me of subdued, synth-y Lacuna Coil, with a blaring synth in the chorus gives the song some focus.
“You Love Me” is the other deliberate genre blend, this time with some hip-hop percussion and flourishes of jazz acoustic guitar over its theatric base. With the livelier beat, Yulianna sings in a fleeter, slightly Lady Gaga-esque pop style as opposed to her more traditional style on the rest of the EP, and she’s able to make it work. It’s not exactly a typical radio single, but with the “la la la”s and repeated hooks, “You Love Me” is certainly the catchiest that Popra gets.
Yulianna’s music training is made extremely apparent on two songs: “I’ll Never Sleep” and her rendition of “Ave Maria”. “Ave Maria” is a slightly electronic but otherwise straight (and completely gorgeous) cover with Yulianna’s most elegant vocals that closes the EP on a graceful note. Meanwhile, highlight “I’ll Never Sleep” is essentially a full-band R&B ballad; even with sleek production, the song sounds more organic than the rest of the EP, and acts as a chance for Yulianna to perform some showstopping vocals. It’s great to hear an artist show her range on tracks like these. Popra only overreaches once, and it’s on the metal-meets-dubstep affectations of “Torture”. The song is still reasonably constructed, and Yulianna sounds great like always, but it sounds stiff and forced in a way that isn’t present on the rest of the songs here.
Pop music has been more and more experimental as of late, and it’s an exciting time to hear something like Popra. Yulianna fully engages with the pop sound of the EP, and the result is something I honestly haven’t heard anywhere else. It’s experimental by design, but accessible and easy digestible, and its short runtime lends to multiple relistens. It’s a night the opera if the balcony doubled as a dancefloor.
Visit Yulianna’s official site here to stream Popra!