Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Sophia Black – Kissing

Do you think Lukasz has ever said “Rebecca” by mistake?


Katherine St Asaph: I go on and on and god I go on about B-list pop, and here’s why. Cut to: Bridget Kelly the Smurfs 2 soundtrack. Loss-led by Britney’s unfortunate hit “Ooh La La” is a sampling of Sony and Dr. Luke’s second-finest: GRL, Becky G, Nelly Furtado (poor Nelly!) and a summery if unremarkable tune by one Sophia Black. Turns out Dr. Luke signed her back in 2012, and judging by the wildly different “Kissing,” whoever’s still settling on her sound has clearly noticed Yours Truly. The results are near-spectacular: a love song that actually sounds in love, featherweight as chiffon and languid like an early morning. It’s even better how a track with Dr. Luke’s involvement feels so charmingly low-key, almost ephemeral — though considering how labels and press up and disappear for stuff like this, it might as well be.

Anthony Easton: A classed-up, relationship-willing, femme drop and reworking of Robin Thicke’s “Sex in the Morning,” with a fantastic, almost primal chorus. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Kissing” is the last thing I expect from a Dr. Luke apprentice, a Canadian drummer with the same name as one of Extreme’s former stickmen and a guy (potentially) credited as O.C. Cat-Pop. And yet, that trio have assembled a winning set of sweet nothings and pitter-patter percussion. If a Dr. Luke signee is following in the ways of our new vanguard-leaning pop music, that’s surely a good thing for the rest of his pop empire, right? (Imagine Jessy Lanza giving all those beats to Katy Perry and think about it for a minute.) If not, at least there’s the one-off glee of “Kissing,” which marries bubblegum appeal to the po-faced aesthetics of Jhene Aiko and her ilk, Black’s whispered come-on invested with a bedding of charming pigtail ‘n’ phonecord twirling. “I usually don’t romance / but with you, darling…” she sings, leaving space for that darling to realise they’re the exception to the rule.

Alfred Soto: Timbaland’s work with Aaliyah circa ’98 influenced the tap-tap/plink-plonk percussion and manipulations of space around keyboard notes, not to mention the breathy vocals. It’s pretty, but the hook dissolves upon impact.

Jer Fairall: A wisp in nearly every possible sense: vocally, sonically, melodically, structurally. Even the ending, coming only 2:25 in, feels less like a conclusion than a matter of simply giving up.

Will Adams: Don’t you hate when songs are unfinished, especially when they’re great songs with promising new talent? It’d be like if I forgot to finish wri–

Brad Shoup: Dang, that was over quick. This feints like a dub production but plays like Ariana Grande in experimental mode. I’ll give her the dumb chorus with a hard-to-shake gait. But spelling’s for rappers and Webbie.

Crystal Leww: Earlier this week, I flipped out at the idea that Aaliyah-wave or Cassie-wave was a Real Thing, as though Aaliyah or Cassie spawned the icy, drugged-out and fucked-up R&B that seems to be popular right now. While I do like the best of the genre, it’s flawed to view the works of either Aaliyah or Cassie circa 2006 as anything but warm, full of life, and completely lost in emotion rather than void of it. Black is in a tight spot because her song “Kissing” is almost ready-made for those exact comparisons and assumptions. But while the production style uses the 40 minimalism that worked so well for JoJo, Black’s vocal stylings are full of the starry-eyed warmth of tracks by Aaliyah and Cassie v1.0. It’s the same warmth and devotion that fills Ariana Grande tracks, too, but Black plays it cool, letting less say more. A gentle, comfortable assertiveness is terribly brave; assigning meaning to the casualness of kissing is hard. Thank goodness she doesn’t belt this out; the whole thing would sound absurd, be tonally incorrect if there were runs for days. That’s the thing that bros don’t understand about Aaliyah, the mysterious allure that Katy B and Jessie Ware also understand (and poke fun at) and that Sophia Black gets right. There was very little that was mysterious about Aaliyah’s love songs if you just listened to her music.

Reader average: [7.5] (4 votes)

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