Self Esteem (Rebecca Lucy Taylor) recently released her hugely acclaimed second album Prioritise Pleasure via Avenue A / Fiction Records. Featuring the acclaimed singles “I Do This All The Time,” “Prioritise Pleasure”, “How Can I Help You”, “Moody” and “You Forever”, Prioritise Pleasure is a remarkable step up from her 2019 debut Compliments Please and sheds light on important issues around female autonomy, comparison culture, self-doubt, heartbreak, sexual assault, comparison culture and self-acceptance, comforted and counter-balanced with an array of rhythmic flourishes that speak to the eclecticism of her experience and influence.
The follow up to Self Esteem’s acclaimed 2019 debut album Compliments Please, Prioritise Pleasure is a record that reminds us all of the importance of being our unapologetic selves, putting your insecurities out there in the hope that it can be the first step towards healing them. Honest disclosure has always been Self Esteem’s forte, and so each track on Prioritise Pleasure handles difficult themes with nuanced perspective, comforted and counter-balanced with an array of rhythmic flourishes that speak to the eclecticism of her experience and influence.
The funk-pop shimmy of “Moody” is anthemic in its analysis of self-sabotaging habits, while opener “I’m Fine” builds a stomp-and-clap wall of solidarity, staking out defiant new ground. Making use of Taylor’s penchant for voice notes, the song’s striking outro draws on snippets of conversation taken from work she did in 2019 with The National Youth Theatre, devising a short play with a group of young female-identifying creatives on the topic of consent.
“It turned into the most amazing month, sitting in a circle and having all these teenage chats,”Taylor says. “But every now and again, there would be some particular insight that would just put goosebumps all over my body.” One such moment was a story shared by a woman in her early twenties, whose fear of walking at night can be heard on the track. “It sounds so stupid, but me and my friends…if we are approached by a group of men, we will bark like dogs…there is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman who appears completely deranged.”
“It sets the precedent for the whole record; like really, is that what we have to do to feel safe?”says Taylor. “I am so angry that I can’t go on holiday alone. I’m so angry I can’t walk home without someone freaking me out, or worse. And the idea that the only defense we have is to be terrifying is so wrong, but it’s as normalised in society as the idea of feeling heartbroken by a guy that doesn’t text you back enough.”
“Breaking a personal cycle of trauma-suppression”, Taylor says, “starts with laying out these instances of her personal experience – self-doubt, heartbreak, sexual assault, the urge to compare – and realising that one stands out as something that truly can’t be justified as part and parcel of life.”
“What’s the one thing that none of us deserve to have happened to us, but almost all women have had? But in order to fucking live and survive and not spend every day wanting to slay every man I see in the street, I’ve had to normalise it.” She pauses, finding a moment of clarity. “I guess this album, the reason it’s so full of love for myself, is that I’m finally seeing that none of those things are my fault.”
Having allowed itself grace, Prioritise Pleasure is also a record of great joy. Working again with trusted producer Johan Karlberg [of afro-fusion trio The Very Best], it was stitched together throughout the pandemic in chunked sessions, the time between each batch encouraging Taylor to fully flesh out her ideas. With Prioritise Pleasure, Self Esteem comes one step closer to reminding listeners – and herself – that true success begins and ends with self-acceptance, telling your story in the way that only you can.