Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Meljoann – Personal Assistant

Via Katherine, an Irish artist…


Katherine St Asaph: Irish artist Meljoann’s 2010 album Squick is an underrated gem: think PC Music before PC Music’s time and without PC Music’s smarm, and absolutely the kind of thing that’d go over great in 2017. “Personal Assistant” takes that album and adds a lot of polish, a lot of Janet Jackson vocals and a lot of (implied) Alexa: careening fast and ever-so-slightly wonky like a self-driving car. Headphones required.

Alfred Soto: The permafrost layer of synths and Meljoann’s high end create unceasing tension, and not once does the veneer crack. 

Ian Mathers: The sound, like Janet Jackson struggling to fight her way out of a Leverage Models production, is fantastic. There just doesn’t seem to be that much of an actual song to go along with it.

Tim de Reuse: There is a functional groove here, buried under clouds of overlapping, hissing voices, a sea of arrythmic cluster chords, and a structure that includes a tonally adventurous, discombobulating interlude for a second verse. None of these things are deal-breakers in their own right, but all at once they’re an unresolvable mess; there is so much tense, unforgiving detail that it tangles up attention into knots.

Nortey Dowuona: Stop-and-start bass and trembling synths that tumble and split underneath Melijoan’s searing melisma draw a line through the spikes of crackling, jutting drums.

William John: A quasi-Simlish take on Janet Jackson’s aesthetic from twenty or so years ago is an intriguing enough premise, though I can’t imagine many people gathering under a disco ball to dance to this, aside perhaps from the cast of Jenny Slate’s Catherine.

Claire Biddles: “Personal Assistant” miraculously manages to retain a consistent groove and sexiness while also being unpredictable and oblique enough to reward repeat listens. Even better if each listen is framed with the hints of submission and transgression suggested by the song title. 

Iain Mew: It feels exactly like the uncomfortable twitchy loop brought on by having too many things to do at once while sat at a machine that should help me to do all of them but instead using it to flick between inboxes. A light “email that dream” poking through the clutter is so perfect it seems wrong it doesn’t end there.

Brad Shoup: For a few months about a decade ago, I was a personal assistant at a small healthcare company. There were about 10 employees, so it wasn’t too bad: schedule calls, purchase flights. Still, I thought there was something else for me, and I bailed, only to spend years working at factories and banks. (There were a few fumbles toward grad school in there.) Meljoann wrote this while working at a call center, the type of place at which I couldn’t seem to get an interview. Her styling for the song and video match: arch takes on a 30-year-old aesthetic. Her cadences are brittle and stacked neatly, the kind of efficiency you’d expect from the job in question. There’s playfulness, but alongside the relentless hi-hat it comes across as emotional labor: the smile you display when a last-minute request drops by your cubicle. And the synth squiggles are as fleeting as daydreams, maybe the promise of a weekend free from demands. After I got hired by my current employer, I used to go into work on Saturdays all the time to chip away at my queue of trouble tickets. Sometimes I’d see an exec, but never an assistant.

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