Monday, November 27th, 2017

Dawn Richard – Stopwatch

86 on low-scoring songs…


Josh Langhoff: In this prophetic rejoinder to Keith Urban’s galvanizing “Female,” Richard turns a cold shoulder to a man, citing more pressing concerns and the momentum of Machinedrum’s electronic beat, its syncopations continually goosed by sampled shouts, stray percussion, and rippling guitar arpeggios. The resulting song is twice as pretty and a billion times harder than whatever Urban was trying to do. VWOOM.

Crystal Leww: “Stopwatch” was penned by the crazily underrated Jesse Boykins III, and he worked with producer Machinedrum to give it an appropriate home in Dawn Richard. Richard has consistently been living about two years ahead of everyone else the past half decade or so, and “Stopwatch” is too much of a banger to ever get the kind of credit it deserves in the pop era of (saccharine, boring) tropical house. Machinedrum has gained a reputation for being a versatile producer, but I love him in the club the best. “Stopwatch” is a song to shake your hips to with the girl friends in a dark room — Richard even speaks directly to you in the bridge! — with gin and tonic in hand and not a single care for the cute boys dancing alongside you all. I can’t imagine anything more appropriate for a pre-cuffing season break-up

Stephen Eisermann: Dawn Richard has been churning out some of pop/R&B’s best songs for a little over two years now. Recently, she has delved into electronic music, and, thankfully, the trend of releasing quality music has followed. This song — a mixture of pop, R&B, and electronic music with tropical under currents — finds Dawn effectively brushing someone aside who isn’t bringing the same amount of oomph that she does to their relationship. She sounds indifferent and annoyed, but why wouldn’t she be? She’s over here changing the game and this dude is simply not worthy.

Jonathan Bradley: Machinedrum’s meditative house arrangement is fantastic: whirring and clicking about as Richard’s high tones trickle along the top. The two are a good match; she tends to soak herself into a track, while his beats are bare enough to contain her. A repetitive and more traditionally R&B hook softens the effect; I would rather like to waste a lot of time with that rhythm. 

Alfred Soto: Distortions that once sounded like the ne plus ultra of posh alienation now sound complacent, and Machinedrum’s trop house accents help not a whit.

Dorian Sinclair: A lot of disparate ingredients are present in “Stopwatch,” but, befitting the title, they’re held together by that steady pulse. Regardless of what else is going on, there’s always at least one instrument precisely unspooling the rhythm, stopping things from clattering to the floor in a disorganized heap. It’s a big part of why the song functions, but the measured approach does end up keeping me from being as pulled in as I am by much of Richard’s other work.

Julian de Valliere: Women, and especially women of colour, are so often pressured to rise above all the garbage being flung at them; to always remain patient and polite, else get disregarded as manic or unreasonable. It’s been doubly frustrating to witness in 2017, which has essentially been an overzealous factory line of god-awful men being shot at us every fraction of a second — most packaged with mics and podiums to help them talk over anyone who has a contrary opinion. And that’s why Dawn’s deliberately cruel words ring like the sweetest of sounds in these ears, because it takes us — at least for three and a half minutes — to a future in which a curt “NO” actually marks the end of a discussion.

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