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White Noise: Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back

Label: Hyperdub

Of all the forward-thinking dance labels, Kode9’s Hyperdub is one of the few which seems actively concerned with pushing new female talent. Laurel Halo, Ikonika, Cooly G, Hype Williams’ Inga Copeland: in a criminally male-dominated world Hyperdub not only unearth a surprising amount of female artists, but these women’s releases in fact constitute much of the label’s very best output. The latest is Canadian singer Jessy Lanza, who debuted with a striking turn on the standout single of Ikonika’s recent LP. Now Lanza enters the fray proper with the indelible Pull My Hair Back, a remarkably confident album which weaves sharp RnB songwriting with icy electronic production.


The production itself makes up for much of the album’s instant allure. Co-produced with Junior Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan, these cool compositions glisten and pulse, expertly balancing retro-cool with a tasteful modern minimalism. There is a stylistic monochrome to the pieces, as coruscating synths play over stark percussion - yet the sound never grows tired, instead offering a wealth of imaginative, classy variations on a seductive central theme. This impressive range is most evident on the album’s central one-two punch of Fuck Diamond and Keep Moving. The former is one of the album’s most leftfield constructions, soft pads massaging a simple groove of clicks and claps, a classy spaciousness which allows Lanza’s voice take centre stage. Yet in the song’s second movement the bassline becomes more insistent, sampled vocal clips worked into an electro-tinged pulse with its eyes set on the dancefloors. By comparison, the addictive Keep Moving is a disco rush, where one of Lanza’s catchiest vocal lines rides the energy of bouncing bass hits and disco guitar licks.

 Keep Moving

The production is marvellous across the board, but this album is credited to Lanza, and rightly so: her vocals steal the show time and again. Each track’s vocal melodies are superbly judged: pop-aware but never derivative, injecting remarkable emotive range and warmth into Greenspan’s blue synthscapes. Indeed, Lanza’s voice bursts with personality as the hits keep on coming, whether drenched in reverb on stripped lead single Kathy Lee or cooing out her phone number on the impossibly catchy 5785021.

Lanza’s astonishing vocal talents will keep the listener coming back for more, while the restrained production proves deeply rewarding over repeated listens, right up to the epic synth washes of spacious closer Strange Emotion. Pull My Hair Back is a wonderful accomplishment, taking each step confidently with a well-realised sound all to itself, knowing exactly when to go for the pop jugular and – more importantly – when to hold back. It’s an album bristling with energy and class, another risk that has more than paid off for Hyperdub, and the introduction of an exciting new talent who likely has a very bright future ahead.


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