Album Reviews

Jessy Lanza – Love Hallucination

(Hyperdub) UK release date: 28 July 2023

The Ontarian has made an often beautiful album, full of sensual delights and productions that vary from wafer-thin to chocolate rich

Jessy Lanza - Love Hallucination Love Hallucination did not start out as a Jessy Lanza album. The singer-songwriter had penned a good deal of material for other artists, and the 11 tracks here were destined for them to sing. However, as the creative process took hold, Lanza realised her identity was stamped all over them, and that hers was the voice destined to sing them. Rewriting and re-recording, Lanza finished off her fourth artist album for Hyperdub.

It is arguably her best. Love Hallucination crackles with atmosphere, in thrall to passionate relationships but covering the highs and lows of falling in love. Lanza negotiates the peaks and troughs with a distinctive voice, often singing softly but communicating strongly.

Production levels are high. The clipped beats of Midnight Ontario support a nocturnal setting, the Jacques Greene co-production creating a vivid picture of love and longing in the rain. Drive does similar as it heads out into the city. By contrast the sultry Casino Niagara is set between the sheets, a pure pleasure-seeker as Lanza sings, “Why don’t you call me lover? We’re driving to the waterfall again.”

Slower but no less delightful is Limbo, a Tensnake co-write whose bassline curls round the edges of the disco beats. Don’t Cry On My Pillow, conversely, bristles with resentment. I Hate Myself is an intriguing song, Lanza repeating the three-word mantra over and over again, breaking only to sing “You’re so cool”. It is tempting to think the song is about insecurities brought on by social media, but it stops short of telling the listener the exact reason for self-loathing – and as a result is a strangely elusive song.

Lanza’s voice is distinctive. A breathy and relatively soft instrument on first listen, it has deceptive strength in depth, projecting easily above the restless ping pong beats of Big Pink Rose, finding the acute anxiety in its more intimate moments. She can reach the heights easily and the words are clear throughout, a quality often underestimated in pop music.

For pop music this is, laced with underground sensibility, the feeling running throughout that Lanza wants to move while she’s singing. This will involve either dancing her fears away or reaching for the stars through the heady excitement of her relationships. There are elements of early Katy B, SBTRKT and Little Dragon here, but Lanza has been doing this long enough to make the music her own, stamping her personality on proceedings and working with some deliciously pointed production. She can be cutesy one minute, no-nonsense the next.

This is a fine and often beautiful album, full of sensual delights and productions that vary from wafer-thin to chocolate rich. Throughout the focus is on Lanza and her feelings, which are reassuringly human and grounded. Combine that with its underground origins, and you have a record for the everyday listener.

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More on Jessy Lanza
Jessy Lanza – Love Hallucination
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