And this seems as good a place to end the week as any…
Kat Stevens: Why is the sky blue? Because of the way light reflects on bits of dust in the atmosphere. Why are there bits of dust in the atmosphere? Because there just are. Why? Because! But WHY? Stop tugging on my sleeve or you won’t get any pudding. Whyyyy? Because I hate you. Why? Because you keep saying ‘why’. Oh.
Al Shipley: If you told me this was from Justin Bieber’s ‘difficult’ second album, I’d believe you.
Iain Mew: This is one of the most unexpectedly amazing things I’ve ever heard on mainstream radio. Never mind your puny lyrical robot metaphors (whose meta use here is cutely incidental to the appeal), Sky is actually totally subsumed into the machine music, used just as one more icily beautiful sound effect to be deployed precisely for maximum pleasure. There’s something weirdly, hugely comforting as well as emotional about the intricate, disconnected reverie that results. I can’t get enough of the song and I’m used to having to go to J-Pop for anything like it!
Alex Macpherson: In the light of pop’s multi-directional spiral down into a vortex of suck over the past few years, aided enthusiastically by the likes of Katy Perry, La Roux and Ke$ha, one feels almost pathetically grateful to be greeted by a new major label female pop starlet who isn’t immediately actively hateful. Sadly, that’s about the extent of Sky Ferreira’s impact here: not necessarily a final judgment, given that “One” is a total non-song entirely lacking in anything for even the most gifted performer to latch on to, but getting so comprehensively outshone by those tinkling pizzicato synths isn’t promising.
Mallory O’Donnell: If this had been released in 1985, it would have been ahead of its time. But only by a year. Its lack of identity makes it pliable as anything, though, and it gets floppier still the more you play with it. For once, that’s a good thing. And besides, anything more rugged than this in her synth-pop would probably turn Sky into a fly on a windscreen.
Jonathan Bogart: Less individuated than I’d hoped; it’s a solid song, constructed well and with reasonable emotions, but she’s too bland to give me a reason to care. Further listens may reveal a personality, in which case tack on a couple of points.
Michaelangelo Matos: “I’m not a robot but I feel like one”, through Auto-tune and with the one repeating-pulsating a predetermined number of times, should push my enough-fucking-robots-already button pretty hard, but this doesn’t. I think it’s because it opts for soft focus rather than robot bash. (Everyone in pop wants to be Daft Punk; unfortunately, it’s the Daft Punk of Human After All.) This is defined but it’s also gauzy, like a less affected “Together in Electric Dreams”.
Anthony Easton: Finally a robot as a metaphor of failure and decay, with that skipped CD repeating that is just on the edge of being technolust for failed pasts.
Hillary Brown: Sure, it’s a bit empty, but that’s the point, isn’t it? There’s an intelligent melancholy at work in the melody here, shades of the Smiths, and that adds some depth.
Martin Skidmore: This is co-written with the excellent Marit Bergman. It’s endearingly clumsy electropop, her vocal bright and bouncy but inelegant and sort of distant, the music clumping along perkily, the whole thing sounding kind of amateurish, which is odd from such experienced producers.
Katherine St Asaph: This has so many elements I love: vocals pureed to the consistency of milk (certainly a better treatment than the Procrustean autotune licks that are more standard), quacky synthesized guys echoing the chorus, frippery in the background and Marit Bergman, whose involvement I never would have guessed until I looked it up and everything made sense. I’m sure, too, that a lot of you will appreciate her saying she’s not a robot.
David Raposa: No doubt some of the girl-as-robot / Robyn haters in the land of TSJ will rip this track a new one, especially since the track’s skint narrative reads like Robyn For Dummies. But even the torch and pitchfork crowd should give Bloodshy & Avant due props — they might be cribbing their moves from their Swedish brethren (and sistren), but no one can say that they don’t have those moves down pat. Not only do B&A infect Sky Ferreira’s pleasantly airy voice with a convincing case of ones and zeroes, but they also construct a backing track robust enough to switch from the insistent neon throb of the verses to a brief-yet-glorious ethereal bridge that’s the stuff of the most lurid electric dreams.
Alfred Soto: As semaphore from a digitized adolescent world, this is unexpectedly gorgeous. If goth boys show allegiance to the likes of Interpol and Sleigh Bells, who want to sound like insufficiently petulant machines, let’s hear it for Sky, who convincingly sounds like one. How normal — you hate your body and the responses you think it inspires in others, so why not wish you could shed corporeal forms by becoming a Twitter signal or text transmission? Take that, Robyn.