Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Nasty Cherry – Win

Not a Jay Rock cover… though we might find that more interesting


Alfred Soto: I heard shades of Sky Ferreira’s echo-laden anguished pop punk, and, sure, enough, Justin Raisen gets the producer credit (Charli XCX gets a songwriting credit too). Ferreira’s debut scalded and seethed, the confession of an industry veteran who had lived five score humiliations by the time she was twenty. Pleasant and tuneful, “Win” has the feeling but loses the spirit. But I also dismissed Ferreira on first listen too.

Iain Mew: I like the initial combination of languid guitar and dead determination, the singer cutting across the obvious path but finding another that was there all along. That’s why it’s a shame when they amp everything up for the second half and turn it into a Sucker reject without any of the fun.

Katherine St Asaph: It’s probably because I’ve listened to very little but Luciana Caporaso for the past month, but what Sucker was to Republica, “Win” is to Portobella: steely, low-pitched, would rather seethe than bang. And besides the pre-chorus, which is tonally off and much more suited to Charli XCX’s belt, “Win” nails the emotional interior of the kind of all-consuming Tracy Flick-ish ambition that most pop songs turn into cheery caricature.

Ashley Bardhan: I like aspects of this, like the kind of ’90s, meandering bass line. The rest of it is so mediocre my eyeballs literally exploded. Once we hit the first pre-chorus about a minute into “Win,” the song completely crumples into itself. There are like three whiplash transitions from verse-pre-chorus-chorus-bridge-chorus where we are introduced to Charli XCX vocal reverb and sparkly synthy stuff that feels like a complete departure from the bass-heavy song we first entered. Then, the chorus goes up an octave, which doesn’t feel that necessary in conveying tone when the chorus is “I need to, I need to, I need / I need to, I need to, I need to win.” My eyeballs just regenerated out of my own perseverance. Also, I decided that if you want to describe yourself as “psycho” in a song, the song has to be at least marginally interesting. 

Leah Isobel: Charli’s vision of pop music is heavily aestheticized and visual; in her worldview, an artist is defined by what they say, do, and look like as much as by their sound. In her hands, this is thrilling. For Nasty Cherry, her protégées, the aesthetic supersedes the music. For what’s presumably supposed to be a devil-horned rocking single, the songwriting is wan and repetitive, and the production feels strangely limp and soft. Gabbriette Bechtel’s vocal finds some pockets of throaty feeling (her delivery on “I need to win, win, win, win“), and the ascending guitar line has a nice tactile quality, but everything mostly feels so streamlined that there’s nothing to hold onto. I’m one of the five people who absolutely loves Sucker, and I don’t begrudge Charli finding another way to get her punk impulses out. But that record was miles more interesting than this song – there’s a thin line between being cool and just not caring.

Stephen Eisermann: “Win” is strangely engaging in a way that shouldn’t be possible considering how simple the song seems, but the almost ethereal sound effects that coat the song in the second half are juxtaposed beautifully against the lead singer’s voice and staunch delivery. It’s weird, certainly, but it’s also good

Will Adams: The songwriting style Charli’s grown into during her mixtape era is a poor fit for the seemingly Sucker-aiming sound of “Win.” Without the explosions of synth and percussion, the stuttering hooks she’s so fond of fall flat, and on-the-nose lines like “I’m such a psycho” carry the weight of an emoji. Charli likened the music she’s assisted with on this project to “the True Romance days,” but I hear none of that. The only sparkle can be found in the pre-chorus, which begins to approach MUNA; the rest is a dull lump.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This is so many layers deep in pastiche that I’m not even sure I can parse the lineages, but that’s not a bad thing at all, especially given how committed Nasty Cherry is to that history. “Win”‘s principal victory is not immediately making me want to listen to Sky Ferreira instead.

Vikram Joseph: Nasty Cherry have been hyped up as Charli XCX’s protegees; while it probably wasn’t her goal, “Win” goes a long way to demonstrating the complexity and idiosyncracy of Charli’s own music. Nasty Cherry use a lot of the same ingredients, and end up with something far less distinctive and far less interesting. The bassline rips off “Buck Rogers”, but it’s propulsive enough, and the glittery snow-globe pre-chorus is the best part of the song. Mostly, though, it sounds far too tired for a debut single – the lyrics are all “I’m such a psycho” bravado (honestly so tedious, at this point) without any of the necessary vulnerablity, and the chorus gets hammered joylessly into the listener’s ears.

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