Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Favorite Track: "Edgelord (feat. Rebecca Black)" Least Favorite Track: "Give Great Thanks"
Going into Dorian Electra’s 2nd studio effort My Agenda, the title led me to believe that I was about to hear a grand statement, a cohesive piece of work worthy of following up the fantastic 2019 release that was Flamboyant. Dorian’s immense songwriting skill that shone through on that record felt like it was hard to top, not only because the record was a fantastic example of self and sexual expression, but because every single for My Agenda had yet to hold a candle to any track off the fantastic debut. Tracks like “Gentleman”, “M’lady”, and “Give Great Thanks” attempted to be quirky or endearingly goofy, but just came off as nothing more than cringy. The lyrics on the latter were so painful to listen to, the explicit kinkiness of the track not melding well with the genuinely pretty instrumental at all. “Sorry Bro (I Love You)” was an acceptable single, but came off sounding like a rehash of Charli XCX’s “Claws”. “My Agenda” and “Edgelord” both worked well as PC Music style bangers, but did nothing to offer any sort of theme or worthwhile expression. With 6 singles out for an eleven track record, the reality of My Agenda became increasingly clear; there was no agenda to be found.
2019’s Flamboyant is a masterwork of gender and sexual expression. First of all, the instrumentals across the project were fantastic. Glitzy and heavy on the synths, it felt like something straight out of the 80’s being rehashed with a modern twist, creating a super fun atmosphere that was progressive in its musicality and message. Dorian’s vocal performances were androgynous, seemingly switching from vocal register to vocal register at a moment’s notice, almost reminding me of Prince in a way. This not only played along with the themes of gender fludity, but was compelling enough musically to set it apart from a lot of Dorian’s PC Music contemporaries. Songs like “Guyliner” and “Adam and Steve” were tongue-in-cheek enough that they created a super loveable atmosphere while still challenging political issues in a relevant way, and that was exactly what I was hoping Dorian would replicate with their next release.
Unfortunately though, My Agenda is pretty much everything other than a bold statement. This release really does little to nothing to interest me in the slightest. The vocal performances are weaker, the songwriting and lyricism is borderline cringey for most of the record (e.g. “F The World”), and the instrumentation is excruciatingly baseline and uninteresting. The majority of Dorian’s vocal performances across the record are somewhat reminiscent of the breathy, androgynous quality that much of Flamboyant thrived off of, but they are nowhere near as eccentric as a track like “Man to Man”. The places that Dorian does shine on the record are quite few and far between, with “Edgelord” and “My Agenda” being the lone examples of a genuinely compelling vocal performance. Unfortunately, the latter of the two sports a Village People feature that is genuinely bad, offering up some off-key vocal harmonies that sour Dorian’s performance on the chorus.
As mentioned before, the songwriting is also at an all time low for Dorian. “Barbie Boy” and “Sorry Bro (I Love You)” both attempt to come off in a cutesy manner that is accentuated by their fun instrumentals, but instead come out sounding too surface level for someone of Dorian’s caliber. A lot of the sexual politics from Flamboyant that felt genuinely mature in their presentation have been unfortunately traded in for themes that just feel unnecessarily raunchy instead. “Ram It Down” is one of the most glaring examples of this, with cringe-inducing lyrics such as “Shove it, I love it/I want it/Please ram it down” coming off as nothing more than the ramblings of an overly horny teenager. “F the World” gets a similar treatment, the song title being taken more literally than it needed to be. Finally, “Give Great Thanks” has a genuinely pretty instrumental, but Dorian’s singing and unnecessarily explicit lyricism on the track really drag it down.
All in all, My Agenda is a huge disappointment. Dorian showed so much promise on their debut and I was genuinely hoping that this record would live up to its name with some more bold expressions of gender politics and sexual expression that felt as mature as Flamboyant. Instead, I am left confused and a little sad at the shockingly low quality of the record before me, wondering whether or not this record was just rushed, a complete artistic misfire, or if Flamboyant was merely a fluke. Whatever the case, I unfortunately did not come out the other end of My Agenda feeling that Dorian had done anything to further their sound. Their songwriting prowess, production choices, and ability to craft a catchy 80’s tinged synth-pop banger is left in the dust, and instead they backpedal into a record that has little to no agenda at all.