Ashnikko: Demidevil review – unfiltered debut of an innate pop provocateuse

(Parlophone)
Audacious and explicit, Ashton Casey fulfils all the hype on this playful, genre-surfing set

Ashnikko.
Ashnikko. Photograph: Vasso Vu
Ashnikko. Photograph: Vasso Vu
Sun 24 Jan 2021 08.00 EST

“I’m shy,” lies Ashnikko, AKA American singer-songwriter Ashton Casey, 24, towards the end of Slumber Party, a lascivious, Princess Nokia-assisted booty call about oral sex. It’s one of a handful of playfully explicit bangers that make up the pop agitator’s debut; the culmination of a blaze of hype – started on TikTok, natch – that’s seen her hailed by everyone from Grimes to Miley Cyrus.

You can see why Cyrus likes her. Demidevil’s unfiltered lyrics are underpinned by an innate pop sensibility, even when the songs careen between genres. So opener Daisy finds Ashnikko spitting “being a bitch is my kink” over woozy hip-hop, before the chorus juxtaposes the bravado with a fluttering earworm melody. The bouncy electro-pop of Deal With It, meanwhile, sugarcoats the pill as she comes for an ex: “I don’t need a man, I need a rabbit,” she raps over a distant vibrator.

Her anger is buoyed up by a sample from Kelis’s Caught Out There, a throwback trick she tries again less successfully on the bratty, Avril-referencing L8r Boi. It feels like a cheap gimmick on an album that manages to avoid novelty even when its tongue is placed firmly in its cheek.

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