Ria Mae Ria Mae
Published Jun 07, 2016Halifax's Rae Mae claims she thought she was making a pop album with her debut, 2011's Under My Skin, But that record's singer-songwriter vibe never "popped" in the same way "Clothes Off" does. The track — a stuttering, infectious ode to physical desire, produced by fellow Nova Scotian Classified — became a breakthrough hit for Mae last year, going gold and earning a Juno nomination for Single of the Year alongside the likes of Drake, Justin Bieber and the Weeknd.
Mae's self-titled follow-up album continues her collaboration with Classified, whose driving backbeats add a confident forward momentum to Mae's songs, even when the sentiments themselves are nervous and uncertain. (He also contributes a guest verse on the slow-burning "Thoughts on Fire.") The effect is an almost anxious desperation that adds edge to material like "Leaving Today" and "Crazy," and makes even the album's less immediate songs eminently listenable. Mae plays with universal themes here, but her delivery and phrasing as a vocalist is deft at finding its way through hooks, making for an enticing, engaging pop record. (Sony Classics)