What happens when one of the UK’s most underrated indie performers decides to go pop? You get Self Esteem. Normally known as Rebecca Lucy Taylor, often with the words “…one half of Slow Club” attached to her name, her latest single ‘Rollout’ is the third official release under the Self Esteem moniker, after the ‘Wrestling’ single and Your Wife EP. The track, much like its predecessors, sees the Notorious RLT take things in an RnB direction with a big influence from American pop acts of the nineties and noughties, at first listen a big step away from her regular gig with the Sheffield duo.
With its snappy snare-heavy percussion, ‘Rollout’ opens insistently, and that’s before its lyrical hook kicks in: “I got one more in me / I got one more in me”, sings Taylor. Promising, but weary, sexual, but resigned, it’s a recurring image throughout the track’s melancholic take on the mature pop of the likes of Aaliyah and Madonna. Taylor’s voice is eerily reminiscent of those artists, especially after ‘Rollout’s first and second choruses, but its bitter yet flirty tone is uniquely hers. The chorus couplet of “What I might have achieved / If I wasn’t trying to please”, with its evocation of ideas unfulfilled and time wasted – trying to satisfy someone unsatisfiable – sounds ever more frustrated with each iteration. Backing up Taylor’s voice are organs, a little fleck of guitar here and there, finger snaps and tambourine. If mournful groove is your thing, it’s here in spades.
Taylor has spoken in interviews about her desire to do something pop for many years, even though she’s generally been associated with indie bands during that time. And yet, just as there’s always been an underlying pop seam in those groups – warped glam rock in Moonlandingz, sophisti-pop with Slow Club – ‘Rollout’ is more than just a stab at conquering the charts. Described by its creator as “a simple bloody break-up song”, its clever use of sparse, multi-tracked vocals and construction of a chorus that’ll stay with you for days, makes ‘Rollout’ something more. Coupled with its slick, stylised and self-aware video, it’s the best thing that Taylor has released under the Self Esteem banner to date. Drink it in, it’ll break your heart, in style.