Jessy Lanza Strives for Pop Perfection: On “It Means I Love You”

Cory Lomberg breaks down the new single from Hyperdub artist Jessy Lanza
By    February 9, 2016


Cory Lomberg knows 2 + 2 can make a 5.

Jessy Lanza understands that the best pop songs are a bit disorienting. The Ontario-based producer and vocalist is back with “It Means I Love You,” with plans to release her second album, Oh No, on May 13th. She’s still in good company on Kode9’s London label Hyperdub, home to releases from Burial and the late DJ Rashad, whose Teklife remix of “You Never Show Your Love” appeared on her 2015 EP of the same name. Her new track brims with a fleeting house influence, remnants of her formal jazz training, and an electrifying confidence. It also clocks in at almost five minutes without a moment of monotony. Pop singles pushing past the three-minute mark pave the way for the genre with the most leeway and the most to gain.

Co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, “It Means I Love You” builds around the drum beat. The other elements come and go in quick succession. Flighty synths filter in. Another layer of percussion is laid down, then tugged away to usher in her vocals. She keeps to a couple refrains, uttered like incantations. The song isn’t confined to a chorus because there is none. Armed with the power of the hook, her own production skills, and a background in classical piano, Lanza doesn’t need to rely on generic pop formulas.

This approach likens her to Grimes, who went with a similar structure on Art Angels single “Flesh Without Blood.” At this point, the comparison is hardly a leap. Both artists tend to defy a cardinal rule of pop radio: make music that’s easy to sing along to. But unlike Grimes, whose voice is often masked with reverb, Lanza’s chants may be lucid enough to suit your average commuter. She’s toying with commercial success without selling her soul. Or her taste. It could be a mainstream miracle.

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