The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Jessy Lanza
Love Hallucination Skye Butchard , July 28th, 2023 11:01

Club music may have caught up with Jessy Lanza, but she's still pushing forward, finds Skye Butchard

Jessy Lanza’s gem of a debut Pull My Hair Back has nearly existed for a decade. The playful DIY sound it introduced becomes more prescient with each passing year. To massively simplify, in 2013, club music had a few main modes. You had your silly, maximalist club tracks from the likes of TNGHT and Rustie, which were intent on giving you a sugar rush. You also had sleek and serious dance music, there to be functional in the club, plus equally serious album excursions. Just as polished were the acts combining crowd-pleasing if sanitised house with festival pop hooks, like AlunaGeorge and Disclosure. No matter the mode, the roles of producer and performer were often separated.

Jessy Lanza was doing something different. Her minimal and mischievous dance songs blurred the lines between singer-songwriter and producer. Her voice was raw and charismatic, obscured by fog machines and strobe lights. She was a killer DJ who gleefully incorporated genres like UK garage and footwork, but in pursuit of a more internal and intimate mood.

In the years since that record, dance music has naturally bended towards that style. Contemporaries like Avalon Emerson, Kelly Lee Owens, Yaeji and Kelela (who's similarly influential Cut 4 Me released the same year) are releasing ‘vibey’ and inward-looking records that are just at home in bed or in the club. All produce and perform in tandem.

So where is Lanza’s head at, now? Inspired by a move from Ontario to LA, her new record captures the excitement of diving into change. On Love Hallucination, she’s still crafting gleeful and dreamlike club music, but there’s a newfound brashness as she steps out of the shadows.

The bones of the record began as a collection of songs she wrote for other people. That freedom allowed her to try on more gutsy lyrics and choruses. In the end, she decided to keep them for herself.

It results in a breezy, sensual album that’s as funny and self-deprecating as it is flirty or freaky. On ‘Marathon’, she demands multiple orgasms from her partner, with a cool delivery to rival the best divas. The earworm chorus to ‘Limbo’ embraces a knowing campness with its naive spelled-out delivery (“L–I–M–B–Oh!”).

There’s more heft to Lanza’s production here. Singles ‘Midnight Ontario’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ might be the most direct dance music she’s written. But a welcome dose of weirdness still colours the edges. ‘Big Pink Rose’ could be an elegant slowjam throwback – if not for the clattering percussion Lanza builds into her beat. Elsewhere, ‘Gossamer’ smudges citypop and classic R&B with trippy backing vocals and unruly synths.

The world has caught up to Lanza, but in staying true to her appeal as she explores new sides of herself, she’s sounding as fresh as ever.