In the days and weeks following Prince’s death, it’s been easy to hear echoes of his genius everywhere you tilt your ears. And in Canada’s Jessy Lanza, his influence is undeniable. Lanza’s reliance on a soft ’80s groove layered with funk-rooted electronica is pure Paisley Park, and her lush, airy vocals float like candyfloss across the top of it all.
A one-time jazz student, 31-year-old Lanza released her debut album ‘Pull My Hair Back’ in 2013 on south London’s wilfully leftfield Hyperdub label, also home to atmospheric dubstep artist Burial. She remains with the label for her second outing, which fizzes with immaculate minimalism.
Co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan from acclaimed electro-pop duo Junior Boys – who’s also her partner – ‘Oh No’ revels in a combination of girlish vocals and twinkling electronica. Seemingly existing on a higher plane, this feels like upended R&B beamed down from outer space, encapsulating everything from the smoothness of Sade to the edginess of Aaliyah. Even the cover art is otherworldly – Lanza draped in a glittery robe, like a member of the late cosmic great Sun Ra’s interplanetary jazz funk Arkestra.
The songs themselves are a celestial mix – from the jittering, glitchy, house-inflected bangerette ‘It Means I Love You’ and the squelchy disco soul of ‘Never Enough’, to the more meditative ‘Vivica’ and slow-burning ‘Begins’. Album opener ‘New Ogi’ pulses with prettiness, setting the shimmering tone for the eight songs that follow. Single ‘VV Violence’ takes the giddy bounce of London cyber-pop label PC Music and turns it into something far less annoying, while ‘I Talk BB’ starts out like the Bladerunner theme but morphs into a slinky soundtrack for seduction.
Despite the wide range of moods, each track is given its own breathing space. The songs also revel in femininity, a trait often stripped from the mainstream of electronic music, which can too often feel like a bolshie boys’ club. So here’s to Jessy Lanza doing it for the girls. We’re pretty sure Prince would approve.