“Moonchild” walks us through NIKI’s personal journey

Two years after her EP, “Zephyr,” Indonesian R&B singer-songwriter NIKI released her debut album, “Moonchild.”  Unlike her first EP, which focuses on youth and love, “Moonchild” exhibits the tale of an alternate character that tackles the theme of growth through challenges, largely based on NIKI’s personal journey as an artist. 

This 10 track concept album is split into three sections, each telling different phases of her journey through a blend of melodies ranging from somber tunes and jazzy beats to eerie vocals. Featuring songs such as vivid ballads and upbeat rap, NIKI experiments with a wide range of genres that ultimately work together in balancing thematic ideas of self discovery and identity. 

NIKI begins the album with “Wide Open,” a haunting, orchestral track that begins softly but leads into a more intense melody. With this opening track, she immerses listeners into an alternate world, as she metaphorically chronicles tales of serpents and demons, which are representative of the obstacles that women face in their youth. Intertwining the powerful lyrics with intense vocals,  NIKI captures the need to be cautious, heeding a powerful word of warning. 

Similar to the beat in “Switchblade,” NIKI sings with a soothing and gentle tone in “Nightcrawlers.” However, this gradually transitions into a faster pace as she begins to rap in the second verse, and her vocals are suddenly surrounded with trap filled beats. The shift she showcases here takes on a darker, supernatural undertone that creates a dominating sense of fear and underlying danger. Creating imagery through lyrics such as “nightcrawlers springing up left and right” and “don’t share where you sleep,” NIKI once again heeds a warning and draws attention to the fear of the unknown. 

However, these tracks are greatly contrasted with the dreamy pop tempo that is infused throughout “Pandemonium.” Despite the feel-good and calm beat that surrounds this track, “Pandemonium” takes on a darker, serious message. As NIKI smoothly sings lyrics such as “everybody here is dying” and “silently detonating emotions,” she unpacks how people are hesitant to express their emotions. Through this standout track, NIKI takes an honest approach in conveying how people ultimately struggle with depression alone.

“Lose” shares the same painful candor as “Pandemonium.” In this piano ballad, the simple, yet captivating melody of “Lose” allows NIKI’s lyricism and vocals to dominate the track. Telling the tale of a rough relationship with a lover, the track cleverly portrays the difficulties of gaining closure. As the ballad plays the same set of chords again throughout the song, it beautifully captures the vulnerable moment of heartbreak and devastation as a pair of lovers struggle to end their relationship. 

NIKI ends the album with “Drive On,” capturing attention with a solemn tempo and mellow, nostalgic undertone. The perfect ending to a journey, “Drive On” features encouraging and lifting lyrics that connect back to the idea of growth. The lyrics continue with metaphors used in the other tracks, such as blades, tides, horizons and the moon, ultimately representing the phases of self discovery. The cheerful melody of this track fits flawlessly with its message of continuing self growth and overcoming fear to further discover oneself. 

In “Moonchild,” NIKI cleverly tells the journey of finding oneself throughout challenges. Greatly contrasting the elements of her EP, “Zephyr,” NIKI’s symbolic approach is successful in connecting to listeners as the poignant lyrics and blend of melodies highlight an honest tale of discovery and identity. 

By Sarah Lew, Print editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Complex

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