wed 22/05/2024

CD: Jessy Lanza - Oh No | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jessy Lanza - Oh No

CD: Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Canadian singer-songwriter telescopes the history of electro together

'More urgency': Jessy Lanza's 'Oh No'

Canadian singer/producer Jessy Lanza's records – and this one more than ever – can feel like they're mapping an alternative history, one where populist and leftfield electronic music were never separate. Two aspects dominate her sound: her crisp, clear pop vocal, and a palpable love of the sonorities of drum machines.

Through every song you can hear echoing a history of electro, from its roots in Suicide, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk, on the one hand through eighties pop, new wave, Madonna, Prince and Timbaland, and on the other through the underground Detroit techno of Carl Craig, Drexciya and all their copious offspring worldwide through to her label boss, Kode9. 

On her debut album, 2013's Pull My Hair Back, these connections were made tastefully and elegantly. This time round, there's more urgency to the approach – more of the energy of both pop music and underground club music. Still, the sound palette is ultra-stark: just Lanza's voice, simple synth tones and those snapping, crunching, popping drum machine hits. But, even in the slowies like “I Talk BB” and “Vivica,” where Lanza's voice vaults into a high soprano and finds a missing link between Cocteau Twins and Aaliyah, each of those elements somehow makes itself a priority without it ever feeling like they're jostling one another in the mix. 

And that fierce consistency holds the album together. It can contain broken, jazzy hip hop beats on the title track, arch Japanese pop-influenced weirdness on “It Means I Love You,” the best new wave record never to come out in 1981 in “Never Enough” and endless other permutations bouncing across the decades, but they all sound like they belong together – indeed, like they belong exactly where they are on the record. Its love of the pop side of its equation is palpable: this deserves to be heard not just as a leftfield artist referencing more populist music, but as a brilliant, strange pop record in its own right. 

Lanza's voice vaults into a high soprano and finds a missing link between Cocteau Twins and Aaliyah


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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