Even a cursory glance at the tracklist of Brooke Candy’s proper debut album for NUXXE gets the message across pretty clear: Brooke Candy is obsessed with sex.
Beyond the corporeal sense, Sexorcism suggests a genuine, Freudian fixation on extreme pleasure and how it can be downright terrifying — the shame and fear, the abjection and filth, the unpredictable transfers of power. There are very few songs on Sexorcism that don’t directly discuss genitals in extreme detail, whether it be Brooke’s, someone else’s, or just capital-P “Pussy” in the abstract.
Across the album, Brooke gets head at her own funeral (the eulogy is delivered directly into her ass), someone’s balls are pierced by a stiletto heel, and a swarm of bees finds home in Brooke’s buttcrack. The lyrics are uniformly silly, but every artist involved across 33 sexually chaotic minutes is fully committed to the bit. The result is a filthy party record that relishes in its niche appeal, even if its comfort in discomfort makes certain songs practically unlistenable.
Sexorcism shows all of its cards in the first minute of its runtime, betraying its strong points and weak spots an instant, with a no-fucks-given glee. Opener “Nymph” finds Brooke ad-libbing infantile giggles and coos as a nursery rhyme melody carries the line, “When I was a little girl, all I needed was love / Now I am a big girl, all I need is love, love, love, love.” Almost instantly, the melody sours, delivering those repeated “love”s like a threat — a sparkly storybook princess mutating into a succubus — not unlike the triple-breasted monster on the album cover.
What ensues is typical fare for anyone familiar with Brooke Candy’s earliest work or key guest verses on Charli XCX’s more recent posse cuts — sexually charged, catchy raps delivered in a trademark bratty sneer, lyrically simple, but effective for her particular mission. What makes “Nymph” interesting is its willingness to pair unbridled horniness with truly discomfiting childishness. Still, it’s difficult to imagine when or where it would be appropriate to listen to it. Even an after-after-afterparty playlist, where Sexorcism’s strongest tracks fit right in, seems wrong for a song stuffed full of so many bizarre sonic and lyrical choices.
Still, Brooke Candy and her collaborators are operating at a nearly unparalleled level of filth — even on the most X-rated moments of Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy or Cupkakke’s Ephorize, the production choices kept those dirty one-liners firmly planted in a more accessible, mainstream world. The vast bulk of Sexorcism sounds intense and alien, a far tougher sell outside of a particular grimy club scene that revels in that sort of chaos.
“Cum”, for example, boasts a fun and bouncy house beat that Azealia Banks would have a field day with, and one of the album’s strongest hooks (though its “Make me cum, make me squirt, see my titties through my shirt” refrain pretty much disqualifies it from any non-cult success). Iggy Azalea fares far better here in this light-hearted setting than she did on her most recent record, delivering a verse that recalls some of her earliest, and probably most fondly remembered tracks. “Rim” is a funny and sonically nostalgic ode to the forbidden joys of eating ass, featuring mostly spoken vocals from Aquaria and Violet Chachki of RuPaul’s Drag Race. They thankfully stay in their lane with their performances (there is a special place in hell for drag queen rap) and effectively create an “Erotica” pastiche in the tradition of New York’s queer underground and its explicit tendencies. “R.I.P.” featuring London-based rapper Ashnikko (who also had a hand in the writing on the album) sports menacing production and, alongside “XXXTC,” serves as Brooke’s twisted version of an accessible, traditional rap cut — which is to say, routinely strange and memorable with only a slight nod to convention.
Occasionally, the marriage to graphic sexuality presents some truly glaring issues. “Swing”, a song ripped from the Peaches playbook, features some inexplicably food-obsessed lyrics about you-know-what. The lines “Get that dick out, get that helicopter ready / My pussy is a heli-pad, I sauce up his spaghetti”, “Bolognese baby, little meat in my sauce”, and “I don’t fuck with a penne boy ’cause he not mozzarelly” are delivered so criminally close to one another that you might feel inclined to toss the Prego out from your cabinets. “Drip” features similarly doomed lyrics — Brooke compares her pussy to a Big Mac and her ass to a soufflé, suggests that her anatomy is “teddy bear soft”. It’s gross but not satirical in the way that a great Cupkakke song can be — there’s no wink in the delivery, and this habit creates some instant skips.
For those following Brooke Candy’s career since her debut in 2012, Sexorcism, despite its comfort level with raunchy sexuality, actually represents a return to form after a prolonged period in major-label limbo which found Brooke releasing flaccid, Sia-penned empowerment anthems like “Living Out Loud” and “Happy Days” to minimal fanfare. Brooke Candy’s early singles, which would only require the slightest tweaks to fit perfectly on the Sexorcism tracklist, were routinely clowned by music critics during a peak of industry misogyny and an untimely resurgence of white girl rappers. There’s a high possibility that Brooke’s perverted imagination was bullied into submission following that period, told to focus on the marketability of her particular look, or to neuter her sexual messaging to reach a wider audience with cookie-cutter female empowerment jams that were within her skill set if not her passion.
That sentiment crops up briefly on “Freak Like Me”, a sadly forgettable and formulaic track wherein Brooke likens her image to swallowing “a Klonopin with gasoline”, (which is, uh, hard). But perhaps it’s a necessary one on a project otherwise so devoted to its core themes, to remind listeners that this is Brooke’s strong suit- that she is the arbiter of absolute pleasure, not a tepid soundtrack at a CVS Pharmacy. Its position on the tracklist makes the final few cuts hit even harder. The knockout verse from Rico Nasty and buzzing, clattering electronic production from Boys Noize makes “FMU” a grimy, badass closer. It’s undoubtedly the strongest song on the entire record, and it succeeds because of the vision Brooke had on display six years ago on “Das Me”.
Sexorcism is not perfect, nor is it the sort of album that could ever be enjoyed front to back, or played in broad daylight. But it does stand as the second coming of Brooke Candy — in all of her nightmarish but playful, horned-up but at least honest, seedy and sexy glory.