Album Reviews

Nakhane – Bastard Jargon

(BMG) UK release date: 31 March 2023

A whole host of musical styles intermingle and flourish on this exuberant, liberated record from the South African singer

Nakhane - Bastard Jargon On Nakhane’s third album the South African singer and LGBT+ advocate is in new territory. Having relocated to London, their sound has taken on more layers and Bastard Jargon’s music reflects the divide between the Western world and their country of origin – Nakhane denies being forced out of the country, though they also remarked “times were not necessarily nice for me in South Africa”. Compared to past work this record has a more exuberant feel, liberated in body as well as mind, and benefits from the production of Chic’s Nile Rodgers and former Years & Years member Emre Turkmen among others. 

The Caring kicks things off nicely with funky rhythm guitar and a syncopated hook, its summery feel only slightly punctured by the wry lyrics. Tell Me Your Politik ups the tempo and features a stand-out verse from compatriot Moonchild Sanelly (“I once dated a boy who always / changed on me when strangers around, it really hurt / the sex was bomb, the change was kak / I wondered why I took that shit, did I love the bite?”) as dramatic brass notes ring out.

These tracks have the sonic hallmarks of South African music, but by contrast Do You Well delves into house and disco for an anthemic number that wouldn’t sound out of place in any gay club. The lyrical approach here is simple and to the point, hooky phrases repeated with euphoric abandon, and does that driving synth bass perhaps contain a passing similarity to Donna Summer’s I Feel Love? You’ve Got Me (Living Again) takes a similar approach but this time the tone is more introspective (“every song I sing / I’ll sing it for you / whether you still love me / or found someone that’s true”) and fizzy arpeggios are icing on the cake as the song gradually builds to its climax.

A couple of songs have the faint whiff of squandered potential: My Ma Was Good’s mischievous, theatrical first half gives way to some slower-paced, aimless house beats, and If You Were To Complain lets a plodding meter get in the way of the track’s emotional core. One listen, however, to the glitchy quiet storm vibes of Hold Me Down or the breakdown on Standing In Our Way and all is forgiven. Bastard Jargon is a triumphant record from an artist who now sounds more comfortable in their own skin, a tribute to the human spirit.

buy Nakhane MP3s or CDs
Spotify Nakhane on Spotify

More on Nakhane
Nakhane – Bastard Jargon