Empress Of

REVIEW: Empress Of Embodies Hollywood’s Glitz & Glam on Daring New Album

Photo by Kaio Cesar.

Lorely Rodríguez spent the second half of 2022 reminding us on a weekly basis to stop sleeping on her, and with her fourth album as Empress Of, she’s determined to wake people from their slumber. A natural evolution from the club stylings of 2020’s I’m Your Empress Of and 2022’s Save Me EP, but with a stronger pop muscle, For Your Consideration finds Rodríguez allowing herself to be freer to dive into intimate affairs by embodying Hollywood’s glitz and glam.

After experiencing heartbreak from a film director during Oscar campaigning season, Rodríguez planted the seed of For Your Consideration with the title track, a fantastic opener that sets the tone for three of the album’s main axes: club music as a vehicle for pop anthems, the exploration of sex and romance without barriers, and the use of her own voice as a layered rhythmic and melodic element beyond classic singing.

For the first time ever, Rodríguez served the role of executive producer, overseeing the work of an impressive array of producers such as Nick León, Billboard, Valley Girl, Umru, Nick Sylvester, and Casey MQ, to give life to her L.A. fantasy. But this new approach didn’t sacrifice her own signature experimental edge — it benefited it. That’s how we get “Fácil,” an unexpected start-and-stop dembow edging, and the woozy, sinisterly bubblegum-sweet “Sucia,” both dealing with themes of bared pleasure. 

Rodríguez’s own voice becomes part of the beat, another synth, or the growl of a bass line on each of the tracks on For Your Consideration, most of the times adding to the sultry nature of the overall theme on the album. It functions as arpeggiated hums on “Lorelei” to round up this techno-inspired dancefloor smasher about infidelity, and as disorienting alien textures on “Preciosa,” as she surrenders control behind closed doors. But it is on the title track where it’s taken to blissful extremes, slowly building up together with her singing to create a blinding pop beam of light, just like those Hollywood billboards.

The poppiest moments on For Your Consideration were actually dropped as singles leading to the album release, which might have misled people about the diversity found on the tracklist. “Kiss Me,” her collaboration with British-Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama, is one of Rodríguez’s brightest pop songwriting moments in her discography, pairing timeless piano strokes with a throwback ‘90s beat to tell a story of unconditional love (as long as it’s reciprocated). Thematically, the Muna-featuring closer “What’s Love” is the other side of the coin, taking refuge in personal transformation after dealing with unrequited love to the beat of a driving triplet-fueled groove. Then there’s “Baby Boy,” a radio-ready acoustic guitar-driven jam that unfortunately slips into generic territory when contrasted with the rest of the tracks.

For concertgoers, it’s no surprise how important dance music has become in Rodríguez’s live performances, and we can already visualize her leading the cardio workouts that are her shows to the rhythm of many of these tracks. From the aforementioned “Lorelei” to the one-two house punch of the gender-bending “Femenine” and the provocative “What Type of Girl Am I,” her club vision is powered up by her production collaborators as she stretches her songwriting capabilities in great new ways. 

Ever since the release of her breakthrough album Me back in 2015, it’s been a wonder to witness Empress Of expand the limits of her creativity. The title For Your Consideration might sound like a plea for us to consider her or her music for some prestigious award or even just our attention, but with this daring set of songs, she’s the whole prize. 

For Your Consideration is out now.