Biig Piig is the 25-year-old Irish dance-pop artist named Jessica Smith who has released strong singles over the past few years and follows up with her strongest effort to date with the new mixtape, “Bubblegum.” Her distinctively intelligent voice and subtle groove have created a trademark sound — somewhere between Charli XCX and the Pink Panthers — that oozes pop and dance-based melodies without sacrificing or eschewing melancholy, and her songs are marked by occasional shifts in fluent Spanish (Child’s was in that country most of the time).
The melancholy is at its strongest in the song “Licorice,” which features a rainy, minor keyboard chord and a wordless “Nn-da, nn-da, tin-da” chorus that’s one of the catchiest we’ve ever heard. Boy’s breathy voice creates a layer of intimacy even in bangers — and “Kerosene,” released as a single last fall, is the biggest banger he’s released to date, with a rubbery groove and a baby-doll-sampled hook. The song is a masterpiece of tension and revelation, as the beat swirls in the background before kicking hard into another nearly wordless chorus. Meanwhile, “This Is What The Mean” features 80s synthesizers that can take listeners of a certain age back to dark dancefloors long gone. Speaking of tension and release, “Picking Up” (featuring American singer Deb Never) starts low-key before vaulting into a driving drum and ‘bass rhythm and big-print chorus.
It’s not entirely clear why this seven-track outing is billed as a mixtape when he’s already released four EPs, but whatever — based on his impressive discography (which includes a great collaboration with Bien et Toe called “Rainbow Table” last year included), Biig Piig’s biggest moment is yet to come.