Yunè Pinku makes nostalgia-fueled music infused with techno and garage, and airlifted by her gentle, occasionally deadpan vocal melodies, corroborating lyrics like “told you I don’t give a fuck” with a delightful, lilting shrug in her voice. Now 20 years old, the Malaysian-Irish Londoner broke out with her fidgety, incandescent debut single, “Laylo,” and hit her stride during a string of lockdowns early in the pandemic, creating a cache of song sketches that formed her Bluff EP last year. Thematically concerned with the paranoia that lurks even when you’re trying to let loose at the club, Bluff confirmed an exciting new voice whose buoyant hooks quickly tunnel their way into your brain.
On her latest EP, Babylon IX, Yunè levels up by adding richer detail and texture to her production, moving more assuredly in the process. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, she sets a rave within its walls to seek out deeper pockets of euphoria and melancholy in her electronic music. Yunè finds an easy sweet spot between trance and electro pop throughout, gliding toward a sleek, tasteful approach without relinquishing her personality. The sing-song verses on “Sports,” an early standout, are a head-nodding delight framed by a strutting bassline, skittish drums, and blaring airhorn synth. “TV’s boiling over, love,” she sings to someone with an unhealthy attachment to their screen, a trepidation about technology that appears glancingly throughout. “I’m not digital,” she intones later, on “Night Light”; “I’m just feeling.”
Babylon IX’s best songs merge springy rhythms with a sense of wistfulness. On the storming “Fai Fighter,” which opens with an out-of-left-field Wilhelm scream, she hits a pleasure point with an oscillating synth melody and backing vocals pitch-shifted into a gossamer high. Like a breezier version of Orbital’s “Halcyon,” the song is kinetic and plaintive at once, outfitted with deep, melodic bass tones and lyrics urging to forget past mistakes. “Night Light” moves in a similarly rapturous mode, with sighing samples, an agitated beat, and bedroom-pop keys that anchor a pleading chorus: “Make me better,” Yunè sings, “Make me better forever.” Her words dissipate into a cloud of noise, rippling out with yearning.
When Yunè slows down further, the effect is just as dreamy. “Blush Cut” opens with an atmospheric prologue that gives way to a bittersweet, downbeat climax. “Hit me where it hurts now,” she urges, adding a sting to the lightness. Opener “Trinity” tiptoes toward its big trance breakdown, as flashing synth pads and murmured vocals are gradually fleshed out with a radiant, wordless chorus. Yunè’s melodic sensibility allows for slow builds as easily as a sharp tempo changes.
The small details make Yunè’s best songs dazzle—a beaming synth line suddenly shifted to a canted angle, a beat churning in on itself to inject a jolt of adrenaline. Imbued with more confidence than before, Yunè’s music on Babylon IX doesn’t peacock, but it doesn’t have to. She glides along at her own easy, assured pace, both comfortable and in control.