“Finding a Balance: Nakhane’s ‘Bastard Jargon’ Blends Joy and Darkness”

When Nakhane began writing Bastard Jargon, they were determined to create “a sex album,” as they explained to Vogue earlier this year. The South African singer-songwriter, now based in South London, intended their third full-length album to be a celebration of joy, contrasting with their earlier, more melancholic work. However, as they built each song with a focus on drums and experimental dance pop, darkness managed to seep in. As a result, Nakhane described the album as an “existentialist sex album.”

Bastard Jargon offers glimpses of erotica through intimate and personal vignettes, with Nakhane presenting themselves as both vulnerable and empowered. A range of contributors, including executive producer Nile Rodgers, John Congleton, and Max Hershenow (aka Alexmaax), joined Nakhane in shaping the album. However, the dated production and unimaginative arrangements occasionally weigh down the music.

Despite Nakhane’s intention to record a vibrant, joyful third album, some songs on Bastard Jargon feel reminiscent of late ’80s and early ’90s pop-rock. Tracks like “The Conjecture” and “Do You Well” may have benefited from darker or more subversive production details. In contrast, songs like “Tell Me Your Politik” and “The Caring” are more successful, thanks to less conventional components and a nod to post-new wave bands. The album’s main issue may be that it is “so full of light” that it becomes blinding, with tracks like “Hold Me Down” suffering from overproduction and an excess of effects.