California-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist JVNA recently dropped her sophomore album, Play With You, shifting her sound to aggressive elements of alt-pop, J-pop, K-pop, anime, gaming, and trance.
Talking about Play With You, JVNA shares, “I see life like a video game, and we are all given the option to take on different quests. In this album, I imagine myself breaking free from the prison my enemies have put me in. And setting fire in their world with laughter! Muahahaha.”
The Taiwanese-American artist began studying classical piano when she was six years old and was writing songs by the time she was 11. Later, while attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she learned to score films and video games.
JVNA started out making edits and remixes of anime and video game soundtracks. Her take on MapleStory’s “Login Theme” went viral, earning half a million views in 24 hours. In 2018, she released “I’m With You,” diving deep into an emotional world. She followed with 2019’s “Catch Me.” A sold-out tour across the U.S. was canceled by the pandemic. JVNA returned to the studio to work on her debut album, Hope In Chaos, which was released in 2021.
Encompassing 11 tracks, Play With You begins with “The Game (Prelude),” setting the stage for the rest of the album with its eerie, spectral tones.
Entry points include “The World Is Mine,” a cinematic bass tune topped by rapping vocals. At once heavy and surging with gleaming colors atop a pushing rhythm, the tune reveals hi-octane momentum accented by shimmering sonic episodes.
My personal favorite, “Demon Time” features a shadowy melody and piercing synths as JVNA’s vocals imbue the lyrics with dreamy, compelling timbres. Whereas the trancelike layers of “Take Your Throne,” highlighted by delicious drops and oscillating synths, offer a spellbinding soundscape.
With its low-slung, dark thumping rhythm and luminous streaming topline, “Play With You (Origin Story)” thrums with thick textures, giving the tune subterranean vibrations as JVNA’s breathy, bewitching vocals give the lyrics seductive urgency.
“Savage” pumps out heaving surfaces of melodic dubstep, shifting and swirling with dense motion. The title track ties the album off, projecting both light and dark surfaces of ethereal filaments as JVNA’s Siren-like voice infuses the lyrics with wickedly beguiling timbres.
Simultaneously powerful and gorgeously wrought, Play With You projects the grand talent and innovative creativity of JVNA.