Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Jessy Lanza – Lick in Heaven

For the last day of Reader’s Week, Juan Carlos gave to us: spinning, spinning, spinning…


Ryo Miyauchi: Jessy Lanza’s dance-pop has always reminded me of Arthur Russell: enamored by the disco but preferring to participate from the sidelines. She still maintains a distance from the music in “Lick in Heaven,” her vocals garbled and full of echo like they’re being transmitted through the venue’s intercom. Compared to her past flirtations with house, though, Lanza sounds eager to join the action. She audibly swings her shoulders to the beat as her voice sticks out more in the mix. “I can’t stop spinning,” she cries out with such joy before the glowing synth riff takes it away. Sometimes even the most bashful of us can’t resist a good beat.

Leah Isobel: Over the summer, I described this song on the suggestions spreadsheet as sounding “like a bathtub overflowing, but in a fun way.” I know how I got there — the synth textures (particularly the bass) are humid and elastic, Jessy Lanza’s voice is humid and breathless, and the instruments and the vocals clip into and over one another like they’re trying to evaporate past their structural boundaries. That dissolution feels more like corrosion; Lanza’s vocal is surrounded by a bitcrushed halo while pitched-down murmurs threaten to yank her into the muck. The dichotomy between warmth and darkness hits the emotional target in a song about anger, as if she can’t decide if she can love her rage while still hating the person it turns her into. That conflict makes the track short-circuit. It’s like someone throwing a toaster into an overflowing bathtub — but in a fun way.

Thomas Inskeep: Pleasantly minimal DIY synth-pop: decent, but nothing more.

Ian Mathers: Is it fair to the pretty wonderful Jessy Lanza that my first, last, and overriding thought here is just “I miss Junior Boys”? No, of course not. But the heart wants what it wants.

Nortey Dowuona: Wilting synths wait for the bass and the gumball drums as Jessy scatters them with her paper-thin voice, which folds into a whirligig, messing up the synths, bass and drums. They unfold and Jessy scatters them again, watching them climb the wall and bringing in more whirligigs to buoy her up. The bass leaps back into place with the synths and drums, while scattered Pokémon leap around, picking up leftover apples. Jessy lands with three bushels carried by her whirligigs, which separate as she begins to plant the seeds, still buoyed, until she’s dropped on her bum.

Katherine St Asaph: Squelches cheerfully for a couple of minutes, though it doesn’t do much more; I can’t decide whether the overall effect is delightful or just nice.

Samson Savill de Jong: There’s a lot of stuff going on that isn’t immediately obvious on the first listen: little squeaks, notes, soft voices buried in the mix that add layers to the song. They prevent “Lick in Heaven” from being repetitive, but I still think it’s too long. A song like this can’t exactly do “high energy” — that’s not what it’s built for — but it tries a version after becoming quieter near the end, and while the section isn’t bad, I don’t think it was necessary. Also, I can’t decide if this is background music. There’s too much going on, and the glitchy sound is too prominent to have it on while you’re doing some other task, but I don’t think it’s arresting enough to listen to on its own.

Austin Nguyen: A warped-glass (or, in this case, synth) mirage that makes me question whether a sound akin to the Slack notification alert can make me move out of pleasure instead of panic. And here I am, “spinning, spinning.”

Brendan Nagle: Many of Lanza’s best songs are driven by an undercurrent of rage, and this is no exception, the painful downward spiral of a breakdown merging with the blissful release of the dance floor until the two become indistinguishable, one whirlwind of emotion. Although it’s suggested that her “spinning” will go on forever, Lanza does eventually come to a stop late in the song. Everything grinds to a halt, the beat drops out, and we’re left with an amorphous outline made up of soft synth flutters. Is this a moment of plaintive reflection? Or an exhausted collapse? We’ve only just begun to settle into its dreamy atmosphere when the beat snaps back into place and the spinning carries on, with more abandon than ever.

Oliver Maier: I was surprised to see Lanza cite rage as the inspiration for “Lick in Heaven”, not just because the song is about as tempestuous as a pillowfight, but because the lyrics on paper could be mapped onto all kinds of emotional extremes. Her delivery is implacable though, and she mixes her voice super weird to boot, so in practice the words pass like textural ornaments rather than conveyors of meaning. What can I say, it’s a trick that delights me. The instrumental, given centre stage, twirls nonchalantly between transcendence and slapstick, half “Empty” and half “BIPP.” Dizzy with possibilities; spinning, spinning.

Reader average: [10] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Jessy Lanza – Lick in Heaven”

  1. The chorus is borrowed from Gwen Guthrie’s “Seventh Heaven”, a Paradise Garage classic.

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