Reviewed by: Max Miller
Ibeyi is a duo consisting of twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz. The former plays piano while the latter plays the cajón and the batá, percussion instruments of Afro-Cuban descent. The sisters also both sing, crafting haunting harmonies across their self-titled debut on XL Recordings. Some songs like “Oya” and “River” build over muted, minimalist neo-soul beats, while others like “Ghosts” and “Behind the Curtain” tap into unexpected bursts of energy that reflect the sisters’ Afro-Cuban heritage, which also seeps into the record in the form of lyrics in the Yoruba language interspersed among the English ones.
Ibeyi conjure memories of other experimental R&B artists like labelmate FKA twigs. Perhaps thanks to the contributions of producer Richard Russell, XL’s owner, Ibeyi retains a conventional hip-hop and soul-inspired sensibility, especially on cuts like “Stranger/Lover” and “Faithful”. With their knack for massive hooks made even more colossal by stunning dynamic shifts, the Diaz sisters look like promising contenders in the ever-evolving, highly competitive fields of both world music and R&B.