Review by: Gimpleg

Cardboard People is a multi genre indie duo out of the San Francisco Bay area made up of vocalist Yunoka Berry and producer Jim Greer. Together they bring forth the debut album, a collection of the 6 singles they released during the pandemic, together with a few new tracks and a couple remixes. The entire album explores social justice, overcoming adversity, and a world of oppression and economic injustice, written from the perspective of a strong black woman.

The album begins with their first single, “Bondage”, a song critical of slavery and oppression. It begins with a rhythmic beat that feels just a little unsettling before a chorus comes in like an eerie chant- “I am your leader, your fearless leader, let me control your mind. I will control you, seek out to own you. Let me erase your mind.” The layered vocals in this portion really work to full effect, making the whole song feel just a little dystopian. The backing track feels like a full production, helping to create an image in your mind that is much more than just a song but a soundtrack as the villain is destroying a civilization before Yunoka raps the second verse, changing the tempo and mood. 

From here the album moves to my favorite track “And Still I Rise”, a more vocal driven track laid over a slow synth beat paired with a faster percussion rhythm about overcoming adversity and doing whatever it takes to come out on top. This song is a testament and tribute to people making sacrifices and fighting back in order to get by.

The next few tracks are the remaining singles they released throughout the pandemic, a series of songs with Yunoka’s strong vocals largely with indie R&B vibes with Jim’s distinct synth heavy catchy rhythms underlying them, adding textures and themes that give songs vibes from sci-fi, dystopian, to ethereal. 

The highlight of the album, for me, is “Puppet”, the first previously unreleased track. This song begins with a nice funky rhythm that feels more upbeat than anything else on the album. Yunoka’s vocals are perfect for this song, and the synth rhythm during the chorus matching the vocals on the echo of the repeated word “puppet” makes it burrow into your head while adding a disco feel before it fades out in a Sci fi inspired fade out over 30 seconds. 

The other new songs released with the album is a much faster paced track, appropriately named “Faster”, which is remixed into an electric dance version later on the album, and a slower, more ethereal track titled “What If…”. Earlier in the year Cardboard People said that this album is the culmination of the first phase for Cardboard People, where they released singles during the pandemic and focused on studio work as live performances were not practical or possible. Each of these three previously unreleased tracks shows off the diversity of styles that Cardboard People are capable of mastering, and really helping to conceal the direction they might be moving towards in the future. 

Honestly, if you’ve been sleeping on Cardboard People for the last three years, the release of this album is your opportunity to rectify that mistake. It features all of their singles, excellent remaining of their own songs through 2 remixes, three new songs that are some of the best songs on the album to give something worthwhile to their longtime fans, and a reimagining of arguably their best track, “And Still I Rise”. It leaves the question of whether they will continue to diversify their sound in the future, or will they focus on continuing within the realms offered in this album, or will they confine themselves more in a singular style?

Only time will tell, but I am sure I will be paying attention to appreciate whatever the decision is they decide to offer me.


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