Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Kate NV – Plans

We hope you’ve made plans for a high scoring day…


Alfred Soto: Just when I thought this Russian singer-songwriter’s twitchy synth groove had run out of crinkles to smooth it pulls a few more as Kate NV, submitting to the demands of the bass guitar, scats over more synths. And the hell did that sax come from? Like Nilüfer Yanya, she’s cheerfully at ease with collaging material.

Katherine St Asaph: Much is made of contrast: a tense post-punk arrangement, every moment a twitch of staccato voice or crackling-knuckle percussion, yet one with plenty of spacey interludes to fall into.

Jessica Doyle: The anachronistic comparison I want to make is to “Baker Street,” on the flimsiest of grounds: both songs are longer than the pop standard, both pull a lot of power from saxophones (although the saxophone sounds themselves are of different origin, and to different effect), and both have the effect of befriending the listener by describing disconnected anomie. Gerry Rafferty employed the second-person “you” to extend a subtle empathy: “And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong” is immediately understood as not a condemnation but a regretful reflection. Kate NV has the same “you,” but her “Everything has changed / Surely you noticed this” is delivered in an almost confiding way. You noticed? You don’t have anything optimistic to say? Then come sit right by her, and listen to her say, “There are plans on this planet somewhere,” in a tone too wry to be convincing and therefore comforting.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Existential dread, but make it camp.

Tobi Tella: One of the most succinct summaries of the general dread that comes with living in the world at that moment. During a time where I’m desperately trying to feel like I have control over anything, Kate’s lyrics remind that everything is terrible and the leaders and systems we look to for order are all shams. The more I listen, the more I think this would probably be crushingly depressing if it didn’t sound so funky and smooth.

Oliver Maier: The kind of song where you know you’re in safe hands from the first 10 seconds or so. Kate doesn’t lean on the bassline too hard though — “Plans” has enough left turns and rabbits pulled out of hats to end up feeling wonderfully disoriented, but still familiar in ways you can’t quite place. The runtime betrays it just a little.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The first time I heard “Plans” I was instantly taken by it — every element felt like a barbed fruit, hooking onto me in ways that I did not fully understand at the time. As I unraveled the song, listening in to the bassline or the saxophone, I realized gradually what Kate NV is doing here. “Plans” is at once crammed with detail and flourish and appealingly bare — there’s never too much going on, which allows for each individual detail to expand out into full screen. It’s a song that’s stretching out the form of pop to full use, curling its fingers around the canvas and pulling until the point of near crisis. At the heart of it all is Kate herself, her wry vocal performance undergirding the instrumental experimentation and preventing the surface from breaking.

Kylo Nocom: Though the music-wide galaxy pull towards pop conventions sometimes concerns me, “Plans” seems to be free of cynicism, instead indicating an artist who has genuine interest in the pop format. Kate NV’s minimalistic approach towards melody allows for her to play around with the surrounding arrangements, incorporating idiosyncrasies that suggest an enthusiasm for obscure new wave yet never using them as mere decoration. She may lyrically bemoan her inability to plan against the ever-changing world, but the efficiency of this track suggests a strategic approach towards songwriting — a breath of fresh air compared to modern artists in the played-out synthpop tradition.

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One Response to “Kate NV – Plans”

  1. kicking myself for not catching the stereolab influence here