Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Erika de Casier – Busy

We’re busy too, but not too busy for this…


[Video]
[7.70]

Kayla Beardslee: I first listened to Erika de Casier when the Jukebox covered “Good Time” for Reader’s Week 2019. I wasn’t a huge fan of that song (I called it boring… sorry Erika), but I’m happy to say that I’ve really enjoyed the singles off her second album! Compared to “Good Time” (which, to be fair, is only one data point), she seems to have stepped up her melodic, vocal, and production game on Sensational: yes, Drama,” “Polite,” and now “Busy” have all been the picture of restraint, but there’s palpable energy, wit, and magnetism bubbling up from her hushed performance. I’m so glad I came around on her music!
[8]

Oliver Maier: De Casier’s magic trick is to wring glitter out of the mundane and disappointing. “Busy” is no exception; the wry, self-reflexive joke here is that possibly her liveliest, most danceable song to date is about being swamped with work. Integrating 2-step into her usual R&B palette is savvy stuff, musically channelling a little Craig David but inverting his awkward bravado into insular melancholy. Put differently, David always sounds like he’s bragging to his mates, whereas de Casier, even when supposedly addressing someone, always sounds like she’s talking to herself. That she remains impassive means you’re free to either enjoy the playful workaholic caricature or excavate all of the dismaying possibilities lurking under the surface. It gets the job done either way.
[9]

Vikram Joseph: That this captures so exquisitely that turn-of-the-millennium UK garage sound is impressive enough; that it does so while sounding vibrant and current is better still. The hook is fizzy and oddly yearning over the skittering beat (although the messy harpsichord solo is the one moment where “Busy” steps over into pastiche). Meanwhile, Erika de Casier’s amusingly matter-of-fact delivery of her daily routine has shades of Sarah Midori Perry’s vocals on the first Kero Kero Bonito album. Unlike, say, Charly Bliss’s “Capacity,” “Busy” isn’t concerned with the deeper psychological factors behind being unable to sit still for a moment. Erika just wants us to know that her calendar’s full, so give her a break ok?
[8]

Dorian Sinclair: “Busy” is one of those songs that feels like it shouldn’t work as well as it does. It sounds more laid-back than you’d expect from the title, but once you start taking stock of all the different elements there’s a lot going on here, and some of it (a harpsichord solo??) is very out of left field. The smoothness of de Casier’s vocal holds it all together, though, and if the lyrics are a little blunt and unpolished, that feels like a deliberate choice. This is particularly true in the litany of tasks she spells out before the final chorus, which could have very easily turned grating — but the sheer mundanity of the list, combined with her charm as a performer, ensures it lands well.
[7]

Leah Isobel: On first blush, the giddy, goofy bridge — “Jumping on my bike! (My bike!)/Helmet on tight!” — lingers because of how cleanly it slices through Erika’s usual melancholy. A closer listen reveals that light touch as essential to the song’s emotional world. It could be a coping mechanism for the need to optimize herself, a way to understand how empty the whole enterprise of late capitalism is, or just a lie she tells to get out of spending time with someone who isn’t on her level. It’s probably a little bit of all three, but I like the latter interpretation best: even when she claims that it’s not easy leaving someone alone while she works, her harmonizing with that baroque-ass clavinet makes it sound like she’s having a blast.
[8]

John S. Quinn-Puerta: Synth voices that read as cheesy elsewhere collaborate with ethereal vocals and effectively deployed drum loops to create a perpetual motion machine. I would give this a high rating for the harpsichord alone, but it’s only a part of the highly enjoyable whole. 
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: The 2000 wriggling synths all settle underneath the skipping and hopping drums and cheetah bass, with Erika carefully arranging them. She juggles the drums, then hurles them along the wriggling synths, chased by the cheetah bass and the firefly synths, then they run right off a cliff and on to Erika’s arm. One of the fireflies plays the synths like a mandolin, with Erika shopping over which bike to use, then cycles over the wriggling synths, the bass keeping pace, while the firefly synths follow around her head.
[8]

Juana Giaimo: After the pleasant surprise of finding a smooth ’00s R&B track in the opening chorus, I felt “Busy” lacked something solid. The song structure is confusing: all the parts that are not the chorus could be a bridge and the second chorus has a post-chorus that never repeats again. Her vocals also sound too thin, especially in the the rap verses (the actual bridge) and I feel it doesn’t fit the irony of the lyrics. (I’m guessing they are ironic, because if not they are quite stupid.)
[5]

Alfred Soto: This bauble has the pearly complexion of Jesse Lanza’s work and the giggly delight of people who know what they’re doing without overcoming me with its adorableness. Putative pop that works as well as “Busy,” I experience before analyzing. It glistens.
[8]

Camille Nibungco: A girlboss anthem with shimmery R&B vocals on UK Garage beats. She pulls at the musical aesthetics of Brandy, Janet, and Sade with a contemporary European twist that I am absolutely enamored with. What are Erika de Casier stans called? de Casettes? Whatever it is, count me in.
[8]

Reader average: [7.33] (3 votes)

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6 Responses to “Erika de Casier – Busy”

  1. Well, I definitely didn’t expect to be the only low score here!!

  2. you can call me a de Casette as well

  3. Lmao this really is the most [8] track to ever [8] huh. (Also I love “Cassettes.”)

  4. missed the deadline on this (too… nvm) but would have also [8]-ed it– Cassettes rise up!

  5. How the heck this tune gets an 8?
    This proves people are snobs wanting badly to prove they have very different taste compared to commercial songs.

  6. “This proves people are snobs wanting badly to prove they have very different taste compared to commercial songs.”

    Have you read our site??? We’re like the leaders of poptimism

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