by Laura Shrago
I’m Your Empress Of is the conceptual, vulnerable third album of electropop singer Empress Of, bringing an evolved sound to her distinct style established with her first two albums. Honduran-American singer Lorely Rodriguez, the woman behind Empress Of, further explores her experience as a first generation American woman and creates a fluid soundtrack to her life experiences.
The album opens with a gradual fade-in of Rodriguez’s mesmerizing repetition of “I’m your Empress Of,” adding layers of a dream pop soundscape. The song crescendos and eventually breaks to a woman explaining the obstacles of learning English, later announcing herself as “Empress Of Mother,” It’s unclear whether she is saying she is the mother of Empress Of or if she is the empress of mother, empathically declaring her ownership over the maternal role. Though possibly an unintended double entendre, her mother’s interlude ushers in the rest of the album’s unapologetic pride surrounding Rodriguez’s identity.
Many of the tracks have a much more upbeat feeling than her pensive previous album, Us. Faster and more party-like, tracks like “Bit of Rain” and “Give Me Another Chance” have up-tempo, syncopated beats, but still with Rodriguez’s signature quick accompanying synth notes. The pleading track “Maybe This Time” provides contrast, featuring a Latin American-influenced beat. These new sound elements are crafted carefully alongside her established sound, culminating in an album that feels like a continuation and elevation of her previous work.
The generally energetic album has interruptions of tenderness. At the beginning of “Void,” Rodriguez’s mother offers the wisdom, “You wanna make yourself the woman / That nobody is gonna mistreat.” She returns for the outro, saying, “‘Woman is a word / but you make yourself the woman you wanna be,” encouraging Rodriguez to take her destiny into her own hands. The quote is also likely a reference to the inspiration behind the track “Woman is a Word” from her previous album Us. Later in the album comes “Hold Me Like Water,” which is a slow, self-reflective song about wanting to know herself better in order to be capable of knowing her partner better. Lyrics like “How can I know, know you better? / Much better now / Hold me closer / Hold me down / Hold me like water” show she is taking a directive in her relationships, listening to her mother’s advice from earlier in the album.
Though I’m Your Empress Of lulls at certain points, with some songs blending together so much that they feel indistinguishable, it proves Rodriguez’s status as a unique artist. She clearly has a message for those who want to look past her light-hearted dream pop outer appearance. Ultimately, I’m Your Empress Of is a powerful declaration of her arrival on the music scene, and she follows through.