Israeli pop singer Noga Erez has described her home country as having abundant diversity, saying, “You can drive for 30 minutes in each direction and experience a whole different societal and cultural vibe.” The same can be said of her debut album, “Off The Radar.”
After releasing several singles, Erez presents her complete album this June. While her sound remains consistent in every song — weird, abrupt beats and an underlying, almost creepy tone — each has a mixture of genres that vary as much as Israel’s landscape. There are moments I enjoyed and moments I didn’t enjoy in almost every piece. The song “Hit U” opens up in a style I found similar to the album “good kid, m.A.A.d. City” by Kendrick Lamar, with muted phrases and mutterings repeated alongside a steady beat. Expecting to hear something along the lines of “Money Trees,” I was surprised when the music shifted to a more electro-pop sound with brighter and more futuristic sounds.
At first, I was not a fan of this abrupt shift in genres. I tend to like music that has some sort of melody, a component that is completely lacking in “Off the Radar.” The sounds are odd and interesting, but it definitely is not music you can sing in the car. However, as I continued listening to the album and familiarized myself with Erez’s cultural background, I appreciated it more and more.
In the track, “Dance While You Shoot,” Erez voices her frustrations with the violence in Israel. She discusses being influenced by the government’s glorification of a cause, only to realize you’ve given your life to a movement much more dark and dirty than you’ve thought. She sings, “Perfect, you’ve told me it’s worth it/ So I gave my time, my finest years you’ve taken,” lamenting on those who are motivated to violence by governmental lies. Mixed in with techno-noises reminiscent of the beginnings of the broadcast news era, the chorus repeats “Can you dance while you shoot/ can you shoot while you’re dancing,” which can be interpreted as a criticism of the mass media and how it creates a divide in the population — the dancers and the shooters.
Overall, Noga Erez has released an album that, while dichotomous and at times confusing, presents a realistic narration on the singer’s experience. It is not for everyone, and I can’t say that it is an album that I will be listening to on repeat this summer, but it is a nice break from the comfort of songs you’ve come to know and love.
Recommended if you like: Kendrick Lamar, Sylvan Esso, Lykke Li