The second full-length album from Jessy Lanza lands hard, skipping around the listener, buzzing with nervous energy. This is the finest of modern electro-pop, Lanza’s breathy vocals firing up the tracks she has co-produced with Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys. Oh No is again released by Hyperdub.
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Yes come on. We’re out in Holbeck with my favourite record of the year so far, Jessy Lanza’s chill but staggered ‘Oh No’, which sees her carefree in a perfect execution of minimalist-gone-maximalist dance music. She opens on “New Ogi” as if the promise of ‘Pull My Hair Back’ came fully-fledged in the interim; the tempo’s slow, the beats skitter like they’ve already zoned out of the party, and the track drops out before it can begin. “VV Violence” comes back around, introing on the kind of implausible, ex nihilo hook the rest of the album’s gonna ride by on -- “I say it to your face but it doesn’t mean a thing”, she sings in a straight line, before yelping a jubilant “no!” to usher in a skittering beat and a bassline that both pushes and shoves.
Rest assured I’ll dance around my room to this record without a care in the world, but it’s a close examination of this record that illuminates Lanza’s best work to date. The little details may as well just be reeled off like the best groceries list ever: her rhythmic breaths on “VV Violence”; the sparkling exterior that holds up the percussive cold snap of “Never Enough”, as well as the momentary inflections of vocal melody; the extra samples that sift through the straight-and-narrow dance workout “It Means I Love You”, including that one-time “ooowh!”. Lanza has made claustrophobic song frameworks out of sparse, tightly-knit layers and then pushed the hooks into them -- it’s the kind of juxtaposition that keeps you curious while also keeping you in the moment.
I keep wondering how space is going to open up on ‘Oh No’, a stringent record that somehow finds space in the extraordinary -- “Oh No”, that there title track, has a shuffling beat and a synth that sounds almost bureaucratic, like dance music for people filing through revolving doors -- Lanza’s vocals and a second beam of chords space the whole thing out. “Could Be U” is slow and lethargic. “Begins” establishes its hook, peels off the additives that make it sing, respawns a few times and then grants you another melody off the back of it -- “But is it good enough for you?”. Very much so. I’m sorry for ruining electronic music by talking about it, but this is fucking great.
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- Oh No by Jessy Lanza
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