What occurs when homespun synth-pop outgrows the bed room? In Jordana Nye’s case, the comfortable, lo-fi harmonies of her early Bandcamp tapes appeared to bloom in 100 instructions without delay. Her 2020 breakthrough One thing to Say to You performed like a sampler, mapping potential futures in fashionable electro-pop, earnest piano ballads, or fuzzy experimentation. Simply 19 upon the album’s launch, the Maryland native flashed unassuming brilliance as a producer and songwriter, mastering a breadth of kinds with out committing herself to any of them.
One can’t dine out on precociousness eternally. On the follow-up, Face the Wall, Jordana and co-producer Cameron Hale collapse the disparate components of her earlier work right into a bolder, brighter soundscape. The instrumentation continues to be largely artificial, the vocal results gauzier than ever. As on One thing to Say to You, sharp percussive thrives distinction the tracks’ hazy layering. On “Strain Level” and “Get Up,” heavy drum patterns throw the fragile choruses and instrumental breaks into acute reduction; the dashing drums and one-note bassline of “Play Truthful” animate a sequence of stop-start transitions.
There’s an evasive high quality to Jordana’s performances courting again to her excessive school-era demos. Usually her verses start in media res, with vocal tracks washing over the instrumentals in mushy waves. On Face the Wall, her lyrics preserve a bedroom-tape abstraction: “Catch My Drift” and “Tough for Now” have sweeping, second-person dedications instead of narratives, weighting down the nice and cozy melodies. The file’s most compelling moments are these when Jordana shakes the ambivalence and emerges from the wings. The standout “Go Sluggish” evokes a well-recognized melancholy, but it’s her most forthright affirmation to this point: “Focus has by no means been a pal of mine, half the time I’m undecided if I’m flying/I’ll strive, for certainty that I would discover/Nothing works except I take the time.”
If Jordana tends to mix into the wallpaper, it’s largely attributable to her songs’ structural complexities. The cagey pre-chorus of “Catch My Drift” unleashes a euphoric hook, additional refined by a breakdown bridge worthy of an arena-rock finale. Every now and then, Face the Wall defaults to sunny ’90s touchstones—the chords of “To the Floor” make it a lifeless ringer for Shania Twain’s “You’re Nonetheless the One”—however not sufficient to distract from the manufacturing duo’s imaginative and prescient. With its sparkly guitar, call-and-response refrain, and chunky hip-hop drums, “I Imply That” performs like a Sugar Ray B-side you by no means thought to hunt out.