Friday, May 4th, 2018

Seinabo Sey – I Owe You Nothing

Not even a clever subhead…


[Video]
[7.25]

Katherine St Asaph: The fundamental issue here: “I owe you nothing” includes “I owe you no easy, hooky banger” — which is true, but results in no banger.
[6]

Alex Clifton: Do you ever have power songs, just stuff you listen to as you’re walking around to push you through like a mini motivational soundtrack made all the more powerful by the fact that nobody knows what you’re listening to? Stuff that gives you an extra bit of swagger. This is a particularly good song to listen to as you walk around at night and you see expectant faces in streetlights and you know, in an instant, that your life is your own and you don’t have to give it to them. It’s a song that feels both freeing and lonely at the same time, which is one of my favourite feelings.
[8]

Julian Axelrod: A thousand women’s anger calcified into a steely-eyed statement of intent. A thousand clicks and whirrs blended into a beat that sounds like the theme to a robot heist. And when Seinabo Sey tears into that bridge, she does the work of a thousand think pieces in the space of six lines.
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: Fuzzy, low burning bass, cavernous cries and smooth, stealthy drums gird Sey’s authoritative croon.
[9]

Mark Sinker: The backdrop is gorgeous: thunder-in-the-unclaimed-quarter, an ambient rolling rumble of mordant threat (that nevertheless sly foregrounds the fact of its manufacture). And her voice is such a poised multipurpose weapon: I went goosebumpy the first time she huskily dropped register for the ocean/devotion couplet, and the moonjune-ish cliché turned inside out. For most of the song — and this is its force — we the listeners could be the target, of the focused overall NO of sound and concept. But it flips off too early into too-casual verbalisation: “Nah nah nah!” Just a for second we’re her confidantes, and just for a second the full pressure is off.
[6]

Jonathan Bogart: Politically righteous but physically sluggish in the usual Nordic manner of icy, removed production. Even as her gospel harmonies spread lushly, they fall echoing into an hollowed-out cathedral of deathly polite silence.
[6]

Will Adams: Spellbinding in places, especially the “dance monkey dance monkey dance monkey” part: a turbulent melody rolling over the woozy, downsampled synths. The gospel breakdown is meant to add lift but feels like a concession in what’s otherwise an intentionally challenging and confronting song.
[6]

Iain Mew: “I Owe You Nothing” wields its chiptune sounds as a reminder that sometimes the most pixelised and basic of landscapes can be the most forbidding, wrongness fuelled by the imagination filling in worse things in the gaps. Amidst the digital freeze, Seinabo Sey applies a breathtaking sense of purpose to the role of the only source of warmth, the better to set up its denial as the most powerful gesture possible.
[9]

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