Pull My Hair Back
Hyperdub (2013)In the future, androids will cruise lounges looking to score with flesh-and-blood humans. When the couples will go back to their climate-and-dust-controlled apartments and begin pairing, the soundtrack that will start auto-playing in the background is Jessy Lanza’s Pull My Hair Back.
Like the Barry White of the cyber-generation, Lanza spins out smooth, sultry soul. Yet unlike White, whose deep voice anchored his music, Lanza’s breathy, whispery soprano blends into the background, becoming another instrument in a silky sonic sheet you want to roll around in naked until the sun comes up.
Befitting an album that will serve as the soundtrack to futuristic human/machine boogie nights, there doesn’t seem to be an actual organic instrument on the album. Instead, the synthesizer and drum machine reign, and they manufacture a surprisingly warm and sultry soundscape — think Tangerine Dream all sexed up. At once spare yet lush, this is electropop with a brain — and a soul.
You might wonder about the success of an all-electronic soul album, but one listen to the title track, “Pull My Hair Back”, and you’ll be too busy getting down and dreamy with yourself to wonder any further. It’s an R&B “get it on” song that can stand with the best of ’em — but it’s not all roses and candy hearts. In one of the clearer lyrics on the album, Lanza tells her suitor, “I don’t give a fuck what you do.”
As you might guess from that bit of poetry, word-wise, the album’s a little lightweight and, in interviews, Lanza herself has said that she more or less improvises the lyrics, going with what sounds best rather than shooting for deep meaning. She calls her singing style a “cohesive mumble”, which pretty much sums it up nicely. Sometimes it’s even hard to find the sharp edges of her words, mostly because there aren’t any — all is soft and continuous, much like a French sentence purred by a French model. In France. But when you’re getting it on with a cyborg, it’s not a good idea to have anything too sharp around anyway.
Although it vibrates with a futuristic pulse, Pull My Hair Back also does a fair bit of dancing through the decades. There’s plenty of ’70s disco dust, ’80s new wave hairspray and even a dash of ’90s pop gloss heavily applied throughout the album. It all combines in “Keep Moving,” which evokes Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” from its very first wobbly synthesized notes, then bounces into a Michael Jackson-esque number that would work well in an ’80s roller rink or on the floor of a New York City club played right after Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
And speaking of getting lucky, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing when you bring someone back to your pad (human or otherwise) and let the nine smooth grooves on this turbulence-free album loop through the wee hours. There should definitely be some hair getting pulled back.
Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back Tracklisting
03. Kathy Lee
04. Fuck Diamond
05. Keep Moving
06. Against the Wall
07. Pull My Hair Back
08. As If
09. Strange Emotion