Single: Julia-Sophie – Numb

“Through my sleepless nights
I feel like I’m losing my mind
I try to shake it off
But I just go numb inside…”

And so begins Numb, the first single from the Anglo-French artist and crafter of utterly beguiling songs, Julia-Sophie. Released on May 23rd, the lead single from her debut solo album, “forgive too slow”, Numb is a suitably enigmatic entry point to her sonic world, one rich with carefully-textured, obsessive songs, examining spiralling self-destruction with forensic detail.

Beginning with a sub-bass rumble that feels like it’s coming through the damp-stained walls from the flat next door, it builds slowly. It is intimate, almost too intimate, but also presented in a stark, detached tone that belies this fact, the throbbing synths and propulsive, mechanical beats, a bastardised mutant of the 80s. The spoken verses are dusted with cold-room reverb and echo as a sort of fractured, broken eroticism punctuates everything, an unsettling sonic come-down from what seemed possible before the cold light of day ripped through. Strangely secretive additional whispers are pushed low in the mix – almost inaudible – which adds further to the claustrophobic mania that builds throughout.

“I feel the weight of the world lost in my bones”

Julia-Sophie draws you in effortlessly; there is no need for over-emoted, overt histrionics that are sometimes catapulted forth in an attempt at impact- its intensity is made more potent by its understated delivery. Its subtle, layered glitches and textures build to a truly intoxicated audio patina. The lyrics are painfully, unambiguously open – confessional even – but still rich in poetic concision that captures the inner complexities being battled over. Those close-miked vocals, vibrating and echoing with an occasional, cold-walled sense of space – add to the overwhelming sense of intimacy.

The throbbing electronic attack that eventually builds paints post-punk, dystopian atmospheres with its trance-like repetition. It feels familiar but also startlingly, breathtakingly new. The fractured voices at the song’s conclusion feel broken and distorted – treated with glitching fizz and corrupted like a degrading digital file. This feels representative of the damaged and conflicted subconscious of a love-broken, drug-broken brain, a narcotic refraction that splinters and overwhelms. It’s a remarkable, powerful thing indeed, by a remarkably powerful artist. Julia-Sophie knows what she is doing- everything in this song plays its part, building an arresting depiction of a dark and deeply personal narrative.

“We might be dead by tomorrow
Don’t hate me by then
Can you wake me up from this crazy dream?
Maybe we could make it new again?”

There is hope here. It might be a futile hope but the possibilities of redemption, of being reborn, of finding oneself are still not fully out of reach, even if it is wrapped in that Marvellian, memento mori conceit. It takes rare skill to craft something seemingly so light but capable of carrying so much weight. Julia-Sophie has that rare skill; she is a rare thing indeed.

I love this song…

And you will too.

Written by M. A Welsh (Misophone)