Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

Little Simz – Introvert

Score one in the introvert-extrovert war…


Camille Nibungco: From the song title, I was initially expecting the opposite of a bombastic cinematic orchestra and accompanying pounding drumline. However, Little Simz isn’t drowned out and matches the magnitude of the music effortlessly. Her evocative lyrical flow bleeds with its own raw power that I got chills down my spine. Underlying the obvious message about political and racial tension of these past 15 months, there is a deeper introspective questioning of herself as an artist and black woman navigating the world. As the song crescendos she doesn’t hold back at all, putting full force and meaning into every bar that lands – it feels like rallying cry for hope personified into a song.

Oliver Maier: Cool, it’s that thing I hate where a song announces itself as capital-A Art through pointless orchestration. On a pure audio level “Introvert” sounds overwrought, with a (not-terrible) guitar-led beat scarcely allowed to peek out from behind the (yes-terrible) fanfare. On a more fundamental level I think it takes something away from music, and arguably especially from hip-hop, to suggest that live strings and horns alone make it more poignant or effective. What Simz and producer Inflo end up with here sounds disjointed and agonisingly corny, and Simz’s talents as a rapper are a non-factor when her lyrics are so frustratingly vague. They range from painful quasi-slogans (“if you can’t feel pain, then you can’t feel the opposite”) to year 9 poetry (“To you I’m smiling, but really, I’m hurting”) to lines that scan like punchlines but forget to be clever (“I study humans, that makes me an anthropologist”). She could plausibly be talking about race, but there aren’t enough specifics to really bolster that reading, and it’s unclear what that has to do with “fulfilling Amy [Winehouse]’s purpose” (it’s anyone’s guess what that is). It’s the kind of flaccid, “fight the *vague hand gesture* system” rhetoric that gets thrown around in car commercials; polite, anonymous, inspirational if you’re willing to switch your brain off.

Iain Mew: So much grandiosity to back up loosely linked musings on sin, death and making it. Even before the spoken section, I’ve lost grip on any narrative thread. That means a lot of getting by on how it sounds, which is actually a resounding success. The swells and drum rolls are beautiful, and Little Simz pitches conviction and determination just right to live up to them without trying to match them.

Nortey Dowuona: The heavyweight horns and drums, along with the sharp edges of the strings, leave a big space. Simz settles quietly in the center with a sweetly sung and sing chorus and unpacks her life as the world has come apart. She stands unbowed and prideful, ready to lead her people into war and evaporating all resistance, especially from the wealthy.

Katherine St Asaph: The high-fantasy-Oscar-bait orchestral opening is great. The chill intro(vert-)spective track and Y2K R&B hook that follows are also great. But they feel like two separate songs, and the tempo change exacerbates that. And together they overshadow Simz, on a track where her words shouldn’t be overshadowed.

Alfred Soto: If Wu-Tang could begin with almost two minutes’ worth of dubbed karate film excerpts, then Simz can with orchestrated bombast. The problem is Simz herself, whose sincerity smothers literateness. None of the rhymes distinguish themselves. 

Ian Mathers: I mean, this one just really destroys right out of the gate(/instrumental intro), but the challenge with this kind of portentously epic setting is you’ve really got to step up to it, or it deflates like a miscalculated soufflé. Simz — the “Little” feels kind of off here — does; it feels like I’m hearing her level up every time I play “Introvert.”

Kayla Beardslee: “Introvert” feels nothing short of miraculous. Despite running through a full six minutes of relentlessly dramatic, stadium-sized production, the track never falters or wastes a single second. The switchups in beat, tempo, and arrangement work perfectly, and Little Simz positions herself as the rock in the middle of the storm, never letting her energy waver. The sung and spoken word parts integrate so naturally they feel like part of the landscape. At first I thought it was a bit ironic for a song this bold to be called “Introvert,” but it makes sense. This is the sound of someone so absolutely fed up with the world’s shit that there’s nothing left to do but snap and let every single feeling pour out for the universe to hear.

Vikram Joseph: “Introvert” is cinematic not just in its structure — martial drums, dramatic string flourishes — and not only in its story of personal and collective struggle, set against a backdrop of corruption and decay. It’s even more cinematic in how immersive it is. When you reach the end of its six-minute timeframe it feels like being transported back from another world, emerging blinking into the daylight, pulsing with the sheer possibility of it all. And what kind of film is this? A story about political greed and institutional cruelty? A gritty, hyper-realistic account of marginalised lives? An origin story for a social activist superhero? In its towering ambition and imacculate vision, “Introvert” is all of those things. Its component parts are terrific — Lil Simz’ powerhouse verses, Emma Corrin’s Shakespearean outro, and Cleo Sol’s sublime, spine-tingling bridge — but the way the song delicately stacks them without toppling under the weight of its own ambition is art itself.

Reader average: [9] (3 votes)

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