Still Woozy · May 3, 2019
It would be nice to be given a little more surprise from one of the most refreshing sounds in music today.
The cover art, like all of his releases, features an illustration by Sven’s longtime partner Amiya Kahn-Tietz, that echoes the vibrant surrealism his music takes on.
‘Lava’ opens up the 5-track EP with a lovey tune dedicated to Amiya. A play on the word “love,” ‘Lava’ is a cookie-cutter love ballad cut from Sven’s own brand of absurdity. “You know I love it when you hit the air / Then run around yelling / That’s when I’m melting.”
‘Ipanema,’ the EP’s second track, rolls in with a meandering groove, paying homage to the iconic ‘60s bossa nova wave that has enchanted music lovers for decades since. Its deceptively playful tone is subtly contradicted by the opening lines “Love me like I’m six feet underneath the ground / It’s so cold and nice, there’s nobody around.” It also features guest appearances from Mexican-American indie great Omar Apollo (who offers a Spanish verse) as well as Oakland rapper Elujay.
On ‘Habit,’ Gamsky alternates between agile almost-raps and melody as he expresses flirtation towards a potential lover. Veiling his slinky poetry with periodic twinkles of cascading synths, he wraps up the track with a stripped-down plea: “I could be yours if you wanted / Please, please tell me.”
‘Foolsong’ floats along like a daydream, taking on the EP’s softest sound as Gamsky explores his vulnerabilities in a relationship that ultimately makes the not-knowing of life less mystifying. ‘Foolsong’ is a patch of sunshine whose warmth you can feel as soon as you step into it.
On ‘Maybe She,’ Sven closes things off by giving in to the unknown. With an upbeat yet introspective attitude towards his confusion with a lover, he finishes: “I could wait forever, you know that / Whenever you can, let me know where you’re at.”
Like dreams, many elements of Still Woozy’s songs would seem bizarre taken out of context, but he pulls them together in a way that leaves you in awe in its wake. He manages to spin beauty and wonder out of nonsense, emerging with a sound like no other and the uncanny ability to reveal shards of honest wisdom among the reverie. And maybe most importantly, Lately is fun to play loud — “beach party music” and “bubblegummy” are ways my friends described it to me. Sven somehow manages to channel the sweetest, most wonderful parts of life through his sonic canvases.
But, regardless of what a delightful summer soundtrack it offers, at thirteen minutes and five tracks long (three of which were released previously as singles), it would be nice to be given a little more surprise from one of the most refreshing sounds in music today. Such a short addition to his discography puts it at dangerous risk of being overplayed until you can’t stand it anymore. Although Lately is a good start, let’s hope Still Woozy has more magic up his sleeve.
Listen to Lately: