Friday, December 17th, 2021

Princess Century – Desperate Love

Next up, a onetime Austra member with some desperate resignation, or resigned desperation, or maybe just a resigned mood…


Katherine St Asaph: Maya Postepski’s solo project isn’t too dissimilar from onetime band Austra, but “Desperate Love” is personal, not political. The first part is an arrangement of gloom made glossy and indulgent, meant to go down with a cocktail and twice its aftereffects. But desperation this is not. Postepski’s vocals are distant, barely really sung — there’s a little Stina Nordenstam in the affect — and each lyric circles back on the next, each drained of agency: “when the time requires, then I go.” Little surprise, then, that the mood gives away to a long, bleak coda of next to nothing. I should hate this, and yet it’s all too suited for a time (the foreseeable future? the rest of time?) when every heightened feeling in life has atrophied or vanished. (The actress in the video can’t even bring herself to eat an apple: been there.) I’m not going to lie and say I don’t loop the first half more often, though; in the cold, one strains for whatever small heat one can.

Iain Mew: I’m glad this came up in the second week of Amnesty because it took a lot of listening to sink in at all. The synth icescape came across as too perfectly poised to be in any way desperate; the Austra connection makes sense soundwise, but I would expect them to approach desperation a lot more directly. The result is almost all shiny surface. What that eventually sets up, though, is the part of the song that repeats beyond comfort. It still doesn’t in any way fall apart, but Princess Century draws out the finest of details to give the feeling of repeating the same actions but gradually fading and hollowing out. That would be an impressive subtle effect anytime, but I feel it extra hard after the last couple of years.

Claire Biddles: There’s something delicious about this particular clipped, bored voice singing about desperation. Half Sophie Ellis-Bextor, half “I’m in Love With a German Film Star,” Princess Century makes high emotion sound like the well-practised norm.

Nortey Dowuona: The synths poorly sprayed above the lethargic bass and the slowly rising chords are an irritating pest, distracting from the flat, dull drum shoes Maya Postepski languidly strolls in, seemingly not desperate. Seemingly, since every element has been pared down to mere annoyance, shirking explicit attention but trying to capture the most desperate listeners possible.

Ian Mathers: There’s something to making your heartbreak, even your (so to speak) desperation elegant, but not out of self-effacement or denial: perhaps just an attempt to refine the raw emotions into something pointed enough to convey their weight to another. A song of two parts, “Desperate Love” manages this with both of them, until the resignation feels devastating. Maybe it’s especially getting to me because the second half keeps making me think of The National. The music and vocals sound nothing like them, but something about the melody line/lyrics combination feels like something that Matt Berninger would sing.

Edward Okulicz: The synths in this are frozen over like so many abandoned hopes and dreams, and the repetition of the title at the ends of lines has a numbing effect. Desperate is one thing, but what’s worse than desperation is resignation, and Princess Century only wishes she were desperate for the song’s length.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I love how tense this is– there’s no slack at all in the arrangement or the vocal performance, every moment rigid in its feeling of defeat. It’s a song trapped in the moment right before you give up, a coil of chilly synths just about to release itself into oblivion.

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