Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Romy – Lifetime

Presenting the Lifetime Original Movie, From Straight A’s to the xx…


[Video]
[7.67]

Alfred Soto: Good morning, Romy! The xx’s narcoleptic ethos circumscribed their choices; rarely had a band this side of Spoon or Wire so ruthlessly clung to a schema. She still sounds as if she’s singing from the far side of Neptune, which helps this putative banger. Surrounding her are constellations of background vocals, the true hook. I’m dancing.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Romy’s first solo single outside of the xx is a full-on pandemic rave banger that I hope we get to hear out in clubs whenever it’s safe to go back to clubs. Her forlorn vocals pair surprisingly well with a furiously uptempo, yet still somehow sad, track that couldn’t be more circa-1994 dance music if it tried.
[8]

Leah Isobel: The line between life-affirming beauty and ad-friendly bland is shockingly thin. This lands on the right side — but just barely.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Another spark out of the fireworks canister that produced Sky Ferreira’s “Lost in My Bedroom,” The Naked and Famous’s “Punching in a Dream,” and — the career paths keep running parallel — a little of the tinny-machine sound of Tracey Thorn’s “It’s All True.” It’s fun, carefree, would definitely have been in a Girls episode when that aired 50 years ago. It also feels low-energy, like giving up — like this euphoric dancepop rebirth isn’t something Romy’s fully convinced she wants. (Even her interviews on the subject seem a little tentative.) At the risk of sounding like an asshole, boomer, and/or Spotify thinkpiece writer: Must everybody make pop bangers?
[6]

Iain Mew: After getting so used to hearing Romy over a very particular range of sounds and silences, there’s initial exhilaration just in hearing her over something so busy. Unfortunately busy in this case sounds like Chvrches warming up, and “Lifetime” never reaches the intensity needed for her to make much from it.
[6]

Alex Clifton: I tried really hard to get into the xx back in college because they were “cool indie alt music,” but felt simultaneously lonely and detached from their material. I could see that it was well-made, but it just wasn’t made for me. This fun disco-tinged song is way more my style. I like dance music that doesn’t make you feel self-conscious about the way you move. I have zero hand-eye coordination and mix up my left and right, and ergo I’m not great with today’s hot TikTok dances. But “Lifetime” does not care how cool or hip you look. You can just let yourself go when you listen to it and do the most manic white person dancing and know that somewhere else, others are doing the same thing, as if you’re all together in a virtual club.
[8]

William John: “Lifetime” says a lot with so little. The chief ingredients are a New Order synth preset and a series of words with two syllables or less, and yet it feels like a novel’s worth of events occur in its three and a bit minutes; knowing glances, unyielding desire, the joy of reunion and reconnection, the melodrama of the world at its end. The xx are the maestros of the sparse palette, and their modus operandi has long been to explore the ins and outs of infatuation. Why exactly, then, does something so simple and conventional seem so extraordinary? Maybe I’m beginning to really yearn for the club. Maybe I just really like Romy’s voice, or the fact that it’s backed by a bit of a donk for once. Probably it’s because I can imagine it accompanying a scene at the conclusion of some imagined film, where two characters meet eyes across a dancefloor, give deliberate blinks, perhaps mouth something to each other, blush a bit, show a wry smile, ready themselves for romance. Anything adjacent to that kind of familiar trope is a comfort, now more than ever.
[10]

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: A piece of ’90s Eurodance nostalgia that feels more like a warm embrace than a rush to the head, with one of the most satisfying, uplifting layered choruses I’ve heard lately. Those backing voices are a mantra of reassurance, a solace for this disastrous reality.
[8]

Scott Mildenhall: Romy seems to have the destiny of the classics in mind: the “Set You Free”s and “You’re Not Alone”s that strike right at the heart with universalist romantic philosophy that resounds through the decades. As she knows, now is the right time for a song like this, one reflecting on all the times that never felt like they were with a newly itchy trigger finger. It’s the sound of energies struggling to be pent-up; vital.
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: The clattering vocals, the whirling percussion, and the bass leap around Romy as they skip across the stage, lifting the synths out of the water and rising around the new-growing trees. Romy whirls again, watching the grass spread, the trees rise and the red-tailed hawks pass. She chuckles, then falls, smiling so brightly her face might split in two, then the bass and her echoes sweep her up and carry her across the treetops.
[9]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I’m a sucker for when a hook repeated earlier in a song ultimately resurfaces in the chorus (see the “transcendence” of Zara Larsson’s “All the Time”), and Romy pulls the trick off admirably. It wasn’t until I heard her sing “once in a lifetime” in the chorus that I realized that the track’s underlying manic repetition says “You’ll be right be beside me/I’ll be right beside you.” It’s hard not to read too much into that in a pandemic world, but even without that glorious moment of revelation, “Lifetime” is still joyously effervescent, nostalgia-tinged house music, made for crying on the dancefloor.
[8]

Will Adams: The arrangement pulls me in straight away: a candy-coated roller coaster cart bouncing off the tracks, with gummy synths and sharp guitar riffs. I suspect the discord between the sweetened dancepop and Romy’s alto was the point, but it keeps the song from feeling truly transcendent; there’s octave-doubling, but nothing that feels like a release. Still, the pulse is yearning, and it provides the tiniest hope that one day I’ll be able to sing along to “once in a lifetime, something matters,” amidst strobing lights on a dancefloor of a bar that doesn’t exist anymore.
[7]

Austin Nguyen: In an more normal timeline, “Lifetime” would probably be dismissed as too kitschy (the line “I will not forget / The rhythm your heart makes / When it beats / In your chest,” in particular, yearns for some stripped, “intimate” guitar session but posits a remedial biology question: Where else would a heart beat?). Luckily for Romy, the world is, in fact, coming to an end, and quarantine has only ever been “lonely” and lost feelings. Context matters more than content at times — the soulmate promise of “You’ll be right beside me, I’ll be right beside you,” glitched into fragments before the chorus brings it into clarity, feels even more hold-hands-into-the-sunset against the backdrop of COVID-19 impossibilities. But even in a New Criticism framework, “Lifetime” balances the simplicity and sensory overload of marquee-ready romance in neon letters perfectly. Out of the fidgeting synths of the pre-chorus and the dissonant streaks of the chorus crystallizes the water-glisten calm of the bridge: “Once in a lifetime / Something matters.” I can only hope that in the chaos of the world — past, present, and future — I find that “something” soon.
[8]

Vikram Joseph: It feels almost facile to say it, but perhaps it bears repeating to avoid normalising this hologram version of our lives: It’s been a strange, numb year, and for many of us joy — real, quotidian joy — has been scarce. But it flickers in our peripheral vision, all the same, and in random moments, something — a song, a memory, a conversation, half a bottle of wine – allows those sparks to catch. “Lifetime,” one of those songs so direct and so visceral it convinces you that you could have come up with it yourself, is designed to do exactly this. The pulsing, breathless synths are a time machine to whenever you were last able to truly lose yourself to a song in a crowd; a homing missile targeted at our serotonin receptors, delivering a pure, precise hit of something rare and euphoric. It’s a sheet of lightning, setting flattened emotional landscapes ablaze — a momentary thing, but also a reminder that it will happen again. A reminder that it will still be here for us when we can dance to it, fall in love to it, listen to it standing on top of a foreign mountain at sunrise looking at an entire country beneath us. It feels like a letter from our future selves: a harbinger of joy, once more.
[9]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Obvious The Singles Jukebox bait, but who reads them anyways?
[5]

Reader average: [3.5] (4 votes)

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2 Responses to “Romy – Lifetime”

  1. you heard it here first, folks – ksa is anti pop banger. (for what it’s worth, i would have given this a [5] – it’s pop but boring, definitely not banger.)

  2. It’s banger-shaped without actually doing anything interesting

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