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Jessy Lanza “Pull My Hair Back” – Album Review

Hyperdub (2013)

Possessing the kind of airy falsetto so feather light it could float away at any moment, Ontario chanteuse Jessy Lanza has inevitably picked up comparisons with fellow high-pitched Canadian Grimes. But her debut album, Pull My Hair Back, has more in common with the luxurious electronic R&B of Toronto husband-and-wife team New Look than the glitchy future-pop of Claire Boucher.

Indeed, released through Hyperdub, the London-based label synonymous with UK dubstep and grime, these nine spacious tracks are certainly aimed more at the bedroom than the dancefloor with producer Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys) opting to bathe Jessy Lanza’s dreamy ethereal vocals in a suitably sensual blend of bubbling basslines, glistening synths and slow jam beats.

This deliberate attempt to ‘resurrect the golden age of R&B’ regularly produces stunning results. The gorgeously melancholic closer “Strange Emotion” sounds like a long-lost Quiet Storm classic as covered by Aaliyah. Lead single “Kathy Lee” is a magnetic fusion of finger-clicks, softly whispered melodies and hypnotic chants that’s steamier than a Swedish sauna, while the equally lustful “5785021” is a pure “booty call” set against a backdrop of ice-cool synths and staccato beats.

But Pull My Hair Back is just as alluring when it ups the tempo, as on the throbbing deep house of “F*** Diamond,” the video game bleeps and thunderous percussion which interrupt the slightly tetchy “As If,” and the shimmering sleek disco-pop of “Keep Moving.”

As with the countless other female-fronted post-R&B records which have arrived over the past twelve months, Pull My Hair Back is probably just a little too sparse and subtle to attract any mainstream attention. But those who investigate its seductive charms are unlikely to be disappointed.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music


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