Track Review: Only Man // Fifi Rong

Since her 2013 independent debut release, Fifi Rong has been gently meandering her unique space within the avant-pop realm, testing the restless seas of the industry. Her stark, smoky vocals captivate from the onset. It’s no surprise why she was chosen to open Skepta’s critically-acclaimed 2016 album Konnichiwa. She has also collaborated with the likes of Tricky, Yello, Phaeleh, and Emika. Born in Beijing, Rong has been enjoying a growing success from audiences and streaming platforms in China, as well as in the UK, where she is based in London.

Her new release ‘Only Man’ is an ideal concoction of everything that makes Rong a star of great potential. From the moody, gritty, self-produced instrumental to the sensual vocals, Rong croons this electro-ballad with great maturity, confident in her stylistic originality. Often noted for her inclusion of traditional Chinese musical elements in her work, ‘Only Man’, features ear-grabbing descending melodic patterns from the bass and vocals. She makes clever use of minor pentatonic tonalities, infused into the commercial sound. The lurching gloom of the bass cleverly accentuates the gravitas of her tenderly assertive singing style. Rong’s vocals sit very comfortably in the track; they perfectly embody both fragility and a certain self-assuredness, even when their breathiness can sometimes make lyrics difficult to discern.

Rong’s visuals are bold and equally intoxicating. Pulling from the same elements which endear fans to icons such as Björk, FKA Twigs, and Sevdaliza, Rong is clearly self-aware of her destiny within the context of modern female-led electronic music. It will be a pleasure to follow the trajectory of such a composed and hypnotic songstress. 

Words by Samm Anga

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