You’d be forgiven for being a bit lost under the Pitchfork haze when it comes to Jessy Lanza. One of those acts that seems to be a hipster darling, but never really crossing over with something tangible that you’d hear outside a party in an East London traffic cone or whatever it is kids are doing these days.
But sleeping on Lanza is a mistake, especially with new album Oh No. It’s quite telling that the sleeve has her shrouded in a shimmering cloak, with Lanza herself peering out with a mixture of necessity and ennui that’s a silent expression of the title. That’s kind of what her brand of electronica is all about though, and this time on songs like VV Violence she’s draped in glistening, starlight nu-disco beats with a torpedo of a chorus while delivering her melancholic missives.
Then there’s the rather brilliant 80s throwback of Never Enough, where Lanza’s repeated refrain of ‘not enough, never enough’ is sandwiched with a pared-down taken on modern house. The beats are skeletal but shimmering, and Lanza fills in the gaps with wispy vocals (Going Somewhere) or a nocturnal yearning (I Talk BB). The chopped vocals meld with moments of pure R&B melodic runs, almost like what would happen if a certain namesake stopped playing it so damn safe. Lanza’s playfulness is ever at the front too – the basic loops and claps of Going Somewhere might nonplus initially, but Lanza’s contortion of the line “I just wanna impress you” is the right spike before simple synth.
It comes together as a tremendous collection, robust yet fragile and full of the sort of inventive R&B-pop melodies that a post-FKA Twigs world is ready for (not to mention a bat-shit brilliant coda of hyperactive beats at the end of It Means I Love You). “I say it to your face, but it doesn’t mean a thing,” she yelps at the head of VV Violence. That would be the tragedy here: a proper crossover star right in front of us, and we’re all too distracted to give Jessy Lanza the importance she deserves.