I am rarely one to listen to albums soon after they come, nor do I generally listen to them in their entirety or in order, so I decided to go out of my comfort zone for Kali Uchis’s new album, “Red Moon in Venus,” which came out March 3, 2023. Greeted by a 25-second-long first track filled with clear tones, quiet birdsong and Uchis proclaiming love to the listener, I knew I was in for an experience.
The storyline on that initial track shows that this album is one of love, something both the Moon and Venus are often symbolic of. Uchis doesn’t shy away from the double-sided nature of love, however — red Moons are symbols of chaos and change, which this album balances alongside songs of stability. From the end to the beginning of love, Uchi has a song for you. The album is defined as R&B, but hints of dreampop are interspersed throughout, adding to the psychedelic soul within the tracks. This album includes 15 tracks, three of which featuring another artist (Omar Apollo on track three, Don Toliver on track seven, and Summer Walker on track 13). This is a longer album, but Uchis utilizes every second of it masterfully to the point that I still want more.
After an ethereal introduction, Uchis starts with “I Wish you Roses,” an anthem for amicable breakups — romantic, platonic or otherwise. This second track is what I lovingly think of as an ode to lesbian breakups. Tender, yet boundary setting, she starts off by making sure the listener knows where she stands through cautionary words of bee stings and almost a promise that “you” are going to want her back, but it will have been too late. “Worth the Wait,” the first song with a featured artist, slows it down with sensual lyrics. She continues to relax the energy with “Love Between…,” which features a slow 70s-style groove and a chorus interpolated from “Love…Can Be So Wonderful” by The Temprees. Uchis makes this cosmic beat a ballad for falling in love, and I can’t help but think of everyone in my life, romantic or otherwise, that “make[s] my soul smile.”
Uchis gets more serious with “All Mine,” where she professes that she is the only one for her lover and vice versa. This song gets a little toxic, placing lovers as people who should only focus on each other with lines such as “I hate your phone, throw it away / Wish it had never even been invented.” But you know what? Uchis can be a little toxic, as a treat. This is also the first song with a bit of Spanish in it, which I was excited to see, even if I wish there was a bit more throughout the track and the album as a whole.
This toxicity is continued in a bad bitch kind of way with track eight, “Hasta Cuando,” which features such lines as “Your girl talks shit about me just to feel better … At the end of the day, she’d eat my pussy if I let her.” This tongue-in-cheek lyricism adds a lot to this track, especially as it follows “Fantasy” and “Como Te Quiero Yo.” “Fantasy” features Uchis boyfriend, Don Toliver, and serves as a reminder that no one should settle and instead focus on leaving their fantasies with their partners. “Como Te Quiero Yo” adds to “Fantasy” the idea that you can have a fantasy without perfection — as she says, “Si no hay drama no hay amor” (if there is no drama, there is no love). With these songs, Uchis makes a point that, not only is she living her dream, but every other girl either wants to be with her or be her.
Tracks 10 and 11 similarly pair well, with “Moral Conscience” a reminder that her exes took the final L by losing her, even if she had some self-doubt and “Not Too Late (interlude)” where she tells her haters that “It’s not too late to admit you love [her].” With this, Uchis firmly places herself as an unaffected goddess, only to get vulnerable about break-ups with “Blue” and “Deserve Me.”
“Blue” is a soft beat about experiencing distance with your partner, maybe even breaking up. In this, she acknowledges that she may have exhibited unhealthy behaviors that we’ve seen hints of throughout the album. She notes that she might just love her partners too hard, specifically noting “I guess that’s my own fault for makin’ you my world, now all I feel is blue.” However, Uchis bounces back with her song in collaboration with Summer Walker, “Deserve Me.” Here, she accepts that she needs to move on and that her love is better placed elsewhere with a harder hitting beat, although still maintaining some of the dreamy background instrumentals. This song reflects Uchis’s continued ideology that her body is sacred and love is a prerequisite for access, with lines such as Walker’s “You don’t deserve the love I give you / Make me wanna take the pussy back.”
Track 14 brings one of my favorite songs on the album, “Moonlight.” After bouncing back, Uchis has a fun song about getting ready to go out with her (presumably new) lover. In this, gentle funk amplifies the groove of this track as she sings about getting a natural high from her lover as they go on a night drive. She is fully feeling herself, saying “Veo una muñeca cuando miro en el espejo” (I see a doll when I look in the mirror). Finally, she finishes off the album with “Happy Now,” an upbeat anthem for accepting what’s happened that slows down at the outro as she reflects on the past, saying “Just wanna remember all the good things,” before ending with the sound of waves taking the album back to sea.
This album has a song for everyone, whether you just broke up with and then got back together with your (ex) girlfriend for the seventh time and need to remember that you are that bitch and you should never settle or you just want on a first date and are already planning your next U-Haul. Even if you have nothing romantic to speak of, these songs have a place in promoting self-care and self-love and are all simply bops that you can listen to on your way to class, studying, or hooking up (even if Uchis may not approve of hooking up without romance). And, of course, if none of that was enough to entice you, perhaps the potential for the Kali Uchis effect could lure you in to experiencing one of my favorite albums this year so far.