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Jessy Lanza - Retro-Futurism

Door Shelly Ridenour |

Jessy Lanza makes music that sounds like what someone in the early 1980s might have imagined dance-club tunes would sound like in 2020: cool and breezy, chic and spacey, but still totally nostalgic.

This retro-futurism makes her third studio album a summertime treat. Singing in an Aaliyah falsetto, she delves into a kind of R&B electronica that feels right for our paranoid, "will things ever go back to normal?" times. Lick in Heaven combines The Jets-style sweetness with chiming synths before, out of nowhere, "Star Wars" droid bloops and bleeps break in; suddenly, the song drops out for a second, as if Lanza got distracted, then comes right back. "Once I'm spinning, can't stop spinning," she trills. It's weird and wonderful. So is the interstellar slow jam Anyone Around, which features Lanza—backed by a robotic chorus—cooing against hard-edged 808 sounds.

Ditto Alexander, an Exposé-esque flirtation with a giggly Lanza asking "would you rather be lonely?" while each synth line ends slightly off key, like it's melting in a microwave. Elsewhere, she dips into bedroom R&B (the glistening Badly), upbeat Top 40 pop (Over and Over) and paranoid-synth pondering (All the Time).

The musician has said the song Face was inspired by looking at fellow commuters (a native of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, she moved to New York City a couple years ago) and imaging they were having telepathic conversations with each other: "Baby is it just enough? Tell me do you want it all? Baby are you feeling tough? Feeling tougher more than not?’” she projects on these strangers, between chirping "won't you?" about 100 times.

Lanza also proves to be a woman of her word, as Ice Creamy soothes a thudding staccato percussion with silk-sheet vocals. Living up to its title, the song positively melts.


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