signed to Atlanta-based weirdo rap label Awful Records in 2014 and released her debut EP, BLQ Velvet
, in early 2015, followed by the full-length Rose
that June. Rather than the druggy, hedonistic trap produced by some of her labelmates, Abra's work was lo-fi pop that combined the longing and sensuality of Miami freestyle and '90s R&B with the coldness and isolation of '80s synth pop. Not for nothing does she nickname herself the "Darkwave Duchess," and even though this isn't quite goth, there's certainly something haunting and ethereal to songs like the yearning slow jam "Fruit." Abra recorded this album in her bedroom with cheap keyboards, and it maintains a charmingly direct, homemade sound, even as it nods to U.K. bass culture on tracks like "No Chill" (she spent much of her early childhood in London before moving to the Atlanta suburbs). Her lyrics plead for love and understanding, but she also slings barbs like "I'm young and I'll waste you away," as on the ludicrously catchy should-be-hit "Roses." The album concludes with stripped-down piano reworkings of two of the album's highlights, removing what little bells and whistles were present and focusing on the vulnerable, soul-baring lyrics. The entire album is highly inventive and truly touching, not to mention it's as cool as your favorite ice cream parlor. Rose
is easily one one of the best bedroom-recorded pop albums of the decade, and it's not hard to see why it quickly became a word-of-mouth success upon its release. The also excellent Princess
EP on Matador-affiliated True Panther Sounds followed in 2016, and Ninja Tune issued Rose
on vinyl in 2017.