Monday, March 19th, 2018

Tracey Thorn ft. Corinne Bailey Rae – Sister

“Queen” stays safely on its throne…


Katherine St Asaph: “Still arguing the same old shit,” Thorn sings. Well, of course; the most fundamental emotion of men toward women is contempt, and until the root contempt is gone the same old shit will be argued, pointlessly and indefinitely. This isn’t a polemic, though, but a song, and while that song has merits — think “Back to Black” if its fundamental emotion weren’t despair but anger, and if it were done via electronics — it also isn’t particularly new shit.

Alfred Soto: Proudly claiming — reminding listeners of — her sexuality and gender as if she had to in 2018 demonstrates how little progress we’ve made; imagine having the same forty-year arguments with a different cast of men (and boys). “Same old shit,” she growls, joined by Corinne Bailey Rae. On first listen the electronics, handled mostly by Tracey Thorn herself, grate. But yesterday’s electronics remind listeners of yesterday’s sexism. And today’s.

Ryo Miyauchi: Tracey Thorn could’ve ended “Sister” after telling only two-thirds of its message, and it would’ve still served as a fine pop document of strength and solidarity of womanhood. Yet it needs that fear and vulnerability in the last stretch to truly get to the point: a woman contains multitudes, and her weakness does not fully define her nor does it negate her strength. The song’s ability to split the difference lets that “same, same old shit” lyric hit righteously. Thorn’s angry, tired, hopeless, whatever else you can squeeze out — it contains everything.

Claire Biddles: Tracey Thorn is an undeniable pop queen and this year’s Record is sublime, but “Sister” is too long and too polite to be a standout. 

Jonathan Bradley: The electro-funk groove is too airless for a lyric with this much venom. “I get so scared; I know you own the world,” is a fraught and angry subjugation, but the rejoinder upends its logic for a rallying cry: “I fight like a girl.” For a song of female solidarity, it makes sense that Thorn and Bailey Rae’s voices meld into a singular force. They’re joined by some percussive fills that go some way — though not far enough — toward dislodging the tolling rhythm from its inertia.

Julian Axelrod: Tracey Thorn and Corinne Bailey Rae levitate through a disco-funk wasteland to deliver a seething, stirring ode to sisterhood. And then there’s another five minutes.

Nortey Dowuona: The cascading synths; flat, paper-thin drums; and needling synths trample a slight, awkward bass while Tracey Thorn growls and Corinne is placed in the back to over-emphasize how much better this song would have been if Tracey had given it to her.

Reader average: [8] (4 votes)

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