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Jessy Lanza makes a bright, sophisticated return on Oh No

"Oh No"

Release date: 27 May 2016
Jessy Lanza Oh No
01 June 2016, 09:30 Written by Michael James Hall
Following the lashings of online acclaim and underground love engendered by her debut album Pull My Hair Back, Jessy Lanza seems poised for a measure of crossover fame with her follow-up Oh No.

With Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan on co-production duty once more we expect and receive the kind of smooth soul R&B combined with rapid-fire beats and insistent melodies that typified that debut.

Lead track "VV Violence" seems to deal with consent issues and/or the struggle to be heard - "I say it to your face but it doesn't mean a thing - NO!" is the opening line that sets the tone. It's savvy to place a lyric (delivered in piercing falsetto) that appears to be dealing with such a serious and timely subject in the midst of a belching, compulsive track - it's that rare and appreciably cool thing - a pop single making a worthwhile and much-needed statement.

Elsewhere the stripped beats of "Never Enough" give way to '80s soundtrack keys n' bass burbles matched up to a simple tale of questionable desire, treated stuttering vocals stating "I like it better when you don't do that". The rhythm stays true on "It Means I Love You" as high-end keyboard stabs back a pitch-shifted repeated mantra of "When you look into my eyes boy / Then it means I love you" - sweet and simple enough but followed by "Then you go and walk away from me" before the pounding collage of sampled voice and clipped, pounding bedroom beats land.

The retro-futurism hits its height on the title track, where those ethereal vocals match yacht rock rhythms, crooked fills and mechanical sound - it's clear that Lanza's jazz education lends itself to more complex sonic exploration while her love of soul keeps her firmly in the arena of the accessible.

"I Talk BB" is an odd one out but the album's highlight with its John Carpenter soundtrack start and exaggeratedly breathy, slow jam, Prince-nodding vocals. While it's a change of pace it's also memorable and emotive - it has the atmosphere of a soul relic rediscovered, an evocation of something entirely intangible that's been recreated rather than rediscovered.

Lanza's second album is brief, bright and sophisticated, and while it doesn't push any boundaries or cross borders/genres as much or as often as a fan might hope, it does deliver on the sonic and melodic promise of her debut and offer that chance of a wider audience that has been promised since her first appearance.

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