Biig Piig is 25-year-old Irish dance-pop artist named Jessica Smyth who’s released a pile of strong singles over the past few years and steps up with her strongest effort to date with the new mixtape, “Bubblegum.” Her distinctively wispy voice and sinewy grooves have created a trademark sound — somewhere between Charli XCX and Pink Pantheress — that’s pop without being cheesy and dance-based without sacrificing melody or shunning melancholy, and her songs are occasionally marked by shifts into fluent Spanish (she lived in that country for much of her childhood).
The melancholy is strongest on the song “Licorice,” which has a rainy, minor-key keyboard chords and a wordless “Nn-da, nn-da, tin-da” chorus that’s one of the catchiest wordless choruses we’ve heard in ages. Her breathy voice creates a level of intimacy even on the bangers — and “Kerosene,” released as a single last fall, is the biggest banger she’s released to date, with a rubbery groove and a baby-doll-sample hook. The song is a masterpiece of tension and release, as the beat hovers around in the background before kicking in hard on another almost-wordless chorus. Meanwhile, “This Is What They Meant” has shimmering ‘80s synthesizers that can vault listeners of certain age back to long-since-darkened dancefloors. Speaking of tension and release, “Picking Up” (featuring American singer Deb Never) starts off low-key before vaulting into a driving drum n’ bass rhythm and large-print chorus.
It’s not entirely clear why this seven-track outing is billed a mixtape when she’s already released four EPs, but whatever — on the basis of her impressive discography (which includes a great collaboration with Bien et Toi from last year called “Rainbow Tables”), Biig Piig’s biggest moment is yet to come.