Wednesday 29 April 2020

Introducing: Jessica Winter

It seems a little bit odd featuring Jessica Winter on an introducing piece at Breaking More Waves considering she first featured on these pages way back in 2009. At the time her name was Jessica Spencer and she was the lead singer of the band The Hall of Mirrors. Then she was making music that I described in a 2010 post as ‘sepia tinted sixties styled pop that reminds us of cult French films, Burt Bacharach and rainy days in bohemian Paris coffee shops’, which depending on your perspective probably sounded bloody fantastic or incredibly derivative. I went for the former.

Now let’s fast forward 10 years to the here and now. Jessica has been weaving her way through a variety of incarnations over this time including the much under-valued Glass who made succulent sounding underground synth pop and more recently the hipster-press touted Pregoblin. Over the last few months she’s also been striking out on her own with a breed of idiosyncratic electronic pop that has wormed its way into my brain.

2019 saw the her solo release of Let’s Keep This Shallow; a track that hits you with robotic vocoder vocals and a line that on first listen made me think Jessica had turned into an egg: “On second thoughts I wish you’d crack me open.” There was also Sleep Forever a slice of goth electronica that if it wasn’t for the heavy mournful electronic production would sound like something from a pretty musical. This year we’ve already had the wonky but brilliant Play and now Winter has just released something that wouldn’t sound out of place alongside The Knife or Fever Ray’s work. Sad Music is a redemption song of sorts – an I Will Survive for synth nerds: “When it hurts, it’s good to be reminded” she sings. And what get’s her through the pain? Sad music of course – it’s good to know that other people have been through what you’re going through.

Four tracks in and what is starting to become clear is that all of Winter’s experiences so far, both emotional and musical, are paying dividends. This is pop music of sorts, but it’s odd, interesting, and slightly leftfield. You get the feeling that if Winter wanted she could probably write and sing a bonafide mainstream banger, in the same way Charli XCX does now and then, but as yet she’s sticking to the slightly darker side. Jump into the shadows with her and dance to her despair. 

Jessica Winter - Let's Keep This Shallow

Jessica Winter - Sad Music

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