The story behind Jessy Lanza's debut album, Pull My Hair Back, verges on a musical kismet. The album was co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, and anyone familiar with that duo will immediately see why he was the ideal candidate for Lanza's immersive, often oblique brand of electronic pop. The two have known each other for years, and first worked together when Greenspan enlisted Lanza for backing vocals on 2011's It's All True. As noted in our Breaking Through feature, Greenspan was struck by Lanza's keen sense of musicality, and especially her knack for velveteen R&B melodies. Soon they were fleshing out her songs at his studio in Berlin.
It's that seemingly effortless reclamation of her favorite R&B staples that strengthens what are sometimes very diffuse, almost skeletal approaches to pop music on Pull My Hair Back. Another vista-widening release on Hyperdub, the album has an incredible spaciousness in each of its nine tracks, typically anchored by one of Greenspan's twilight arpeggios or, more often, the sly strength of Lanza's vocals. Her delivery is soothing and patient—hers is a classically inclined kind of mesmerism.
Throughout the album, there's an interplay between an overt sense of R&B songcraft and the duo's more open-ended sonic explorations. In a perfect world, "Keep Moving" would get as much radio play as Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," with its disco-ready guitar stabs, throbbing synths and Lanza's ludicrously insistent vocal hook. In contrast, there's the experimental glide of "Fuck Diamond," a track that stitches shards of Lanza's voice into its club-ready roll. It's this combination of shadowy unknowability and full-hearted melody that makes Pull My Hair Back such an intriguing listen, and certainly one of the year's best debuts.
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Tracklist: Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back 01. Giddy
03. Kathy Lee
04. Fuck Diamond
05. Keep Moving
06. Against the Wall
07. Pull My Hair Back
08. As If
09. Strange Emotion