FPA, “Princess Wiko”
By Matt Mitchell · November 03, 2021
Minneapolis, Minnesota
✓ following
Minneapolis, Minnesota
✓ following

On her 2019 debut, Yang Chen, FPA, aka Frances Priya Anczarski, delivered pastoral catharsis and intoxicatingly smooth instrumentals on songs like “Strawberry,” “Guapdaddy,” and “95000.” For her sophomore effort, Princess Wiko, the Minnesotan singer/songwriter ditches the richness of her once campy, exuberant nightclub persona for a deliverance of curiosities shaped via velvety soprano vocals atop slowed-down, piano-driven ballads. The songs follow the lyrical blueprint Anczarski fashioned two years ago, highlighting a period of empowerment as well as cataloguing the human condition that envelopes her own melancholy.

The album is titled after its medieval princess protagonist, whose story of marrying a man she hardly knows is translated into a perilous account of love in a time of self-discovery. The theme of the record couldn’t be clearer: it’s an act of self-centering and a familiar story of domestic trauma. Anczarski’s work is multidisciplinary; art that combines conceptual storytelling with a wide breadth of genre influences, like R&B, folk, and spoken word. By the end of its 25-minute runtime, Princess Wiko is as much a foundational extension of Billie Holiday and Lizzo as it is Big Red Machine and Tracy Chapman. 

Princess Wiko is not a long project, but it doesn’t need to be. Anczarski has already established herself as a storyteller of starkness. In “The Loved One,” Anczarski spends a minute and a half bathing in assertiveness while repeating the uncertainty of “You are my something” over and over. The most stunning point of the tracklist comes with “Baby,” where Anczarski looks inward to discover how to sustain her own virtues in the midst of someone else’s betrayal. “The man you are/ Did I not build him with you?,” she asks. The question is later juxtaposed with “Of course I forgive you,” which she laments before the pianos ring out at the title track’s end. Princess Wiko is not just a gorgeous act of brevity; it’s an emotional institution.

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