The Best Albums of 2016, #10

band0110. Jessy Lanza, Oh No (Hyperdub)

Jessy Lanza quietly made a name for herself in 2013 by signing to UK tastemaker label Hyperdub and releasing the beguiling Pull My Hair Back. Her sense of simultaneous detachment and playfulness made for an engrossing debut album, while on her spellbinding follow-up the music sounds broader, more vibrant, more uptempo than ever. Yet the ingeniousness of it all continues to be how stripped down the arrangements are, one of Greenspan’s great strengths as a producer. In doing so, the music creates so much space for Lanza to work her own vocal magic, who sounds so much more assured and adventurous than before. Where a sense of shyness helped make Pull My Hair Back so charming, Lanza’s increased confidence provides so much more color on Oh No.

“It Means I Love You” lives in its own unique yet equally imaginative universe. With its effervescent blend of gently pulsating, skittering beats, and playful synth stabs, it dances nimbly around the edges of avant-garde, dubstep, R&B, and pop, exuding a sense of nervous energy. Contrary to the album’s recurring theme of anxiety, however, the mood is ebullient, echoed by the repeated refrain of, “When you look into my eyes, boy, it means I love you”. “VV Violence”, meanwhile, is the kind of track with the potential to attract indie listeners as well ignite a dance floor. “Going Somewhere”, on the other hand, is a sparkling array of airy dubstep and new wave, its pristine tone contrasted by small instances of atonality that add an unsettling feeling. That unease carries over later into the album with the standout “Vivica”, which achieves just the right balance of alien, synthetic soundscapes and classic soul composition. It’s another tremendous example of the extraordinary breadth of Oh No, as Lanza metamorphoses from an intriguing curiosity to a formidable talent in contemporary electronic music.