Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

070 Shake – Guilty Conscience

Guilty… pleasure?


[Video]
[6.70]
Leah Isobel: “Guilty Conscience” is a heartbreak song that rests on a series of ambivalent images presented as facts: “you look at the moon in the morning;” “I don’t wanna think nothing bad / This time I won’t;” “there goes my guilty conscience.” Combined with the heavy Auto-Tune cloaking Danielle Balbuena’s voice, that lyrical approach creates an atmosphere of numb detachment that plays against the urgent rise-and-fall of the melody. This vocal drama plays out over the kind of blasted-out, degraded ’80s-wave synths that signify good times gone bad. When I saw a therapist, she told me to ground myself during a panic attack by naming the objects I saw, to keep my feet on the ground by rooting them in something physical. It doesn’t always work. This song sounds like that failed attempt — it’s like she’s receding into herself, then drowning.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: A sad song whose sound almost makes my heart break. 070 Shake’s vocals sound anguished, and paired with happy-sad ’80s synths, this twist on bass-heavy pop-soul finds its way to my ’80s-teenaged core and makes me feel so emo.
[7]

Kylo Nocom: Emotional synthpop that attracts with its whiny chorus. Repeat listens reveal the flaws: some awkward phrasing in the last two lines of the hook, an aggravatingly basic drum break, rap verses that lack fun.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Her commitment to the lyric impresses me, rattling my confidence in the rest of the track. Call it commercial anxiety or whatever, but the echo and number of percussion loops strike me as zealous production.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: A wasp swarm of synths arrive in the sky as 070 Shake pulls the bass from the tar and sets it free in the swamps. The drums begin to shake the trees as 070 Shake stands alone, watching the bass and synths flee, her eyes full of guilt and shame. As the drums begins to maul the bass, 070 Shake walks back as the drums start piercing the synths, and she kicks open each wasp hive and lets them swarm. As she cries in rage, they sweep onto the drums’ legs, slicing them and freeing the bass, which leaps up to bite the drums, the bass and synths cheering, and 070 Shake smiling, her guilt purged.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Another example of copyright fright — the idea that the ghost of one melodic/rhythmic fragment owes anything past a nod to “Stand By Me” is poison. Anyway, this is pretty funny: 070 is relieved that she, who cheated first but in secret, has the moral high ground. That’s prime dirtbag pop.
[6]

Vikram Joseph: The video, with its hazy colour palate and juxtaposition of urban decay and fragile, simmering masculinity, made me think of Eliza Hittman’s excellent, brooding slow-burner Beach Rats. As a song, “Guilty Conscience” aspires to the cinematic too, but something far less subtle — it’s mostly a showcase for a glittery, sentimental chorus that’s indebted in equal parts to synth-pop and classic rock ballads. That chorus does a lot of heavy lifting here — in between, the verses fill time pleasantly but feel both underwritten and underperformed — and repetition starts to dull its gleam by the end.
[6]

Alex Clifton: Dreamy, gauzy, and blurs together entirely, although not in a good way. I keep thinking of “Circle the Drain,” which felt like the kind of song you could play on loop forever and get lost in it. Here, however, the reverb is way too much, the words are swallowed by the production, and the effect is rather like Charlie Brown’s teacher going “womp womp womp womp” over a trap beat. I think this could’ve been good, but it just ends up boring me for three minutes.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Instead of winning you over with sex-fueled passions, “Guilty Conscience” justifies infidelity with a disingenuous blame game (the American analogue to many a French film, I suppose). Really, though, it’s about the displacement of shame: pastel-hued synths and slurred vocalizing grant an uneasy contentment, like smoking a cig to get your mind off everything. She sings because she wants to feel right, and every melody leaves you convinced she somehow is. A good tune can absolve anyone of their sins, it seems.
[8]

Julian Axelrod: 070 Shake always sounds like she’s trying. Not trying too hard, and not doing that singer thing where you make it clear you’re really trying to hit those notes. But she sounds naked and vulnerable in contrast with her aloof persona, and on big notes, the ache in her voice feels like a chasm a million miles wide. The oblong synths and stuttering production provide moody atmosphere, but she sounds like the coolest preteen alive. It lends a nice vulnerability to what’s essentially a fuckboi dream pop jam, like a Notes app apology projected on a planetarium. Eventually you stop fighting and give in to that voice.
[7]

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