Brooklyn-based musician Nola Wren is back! The purveyor of poignant, brutally honest lyrics over catchy, dark-tinged electronic pop brings us the powerful “Levitate,” which clearly means that this Friday the 13th is a lucky one.
“Levitate” marks her first song in a year, following “Knife,” which she wrote and recorded with Kill Dave (and which spawned some great remixes, including a superb one by Vehlinggo favorite LGHTNNG.)
This time, Wren comes at us with a heavy, gritty cut that might be her most emotionally courageous to-date. Fuzzy synths, dirty guitars, and fat bass are on the prowl, trading places with pretty synth arps; all of which are supported by skittering drum machine beats. Over this is Wren’s characteristic commanding vocals that sit somewhere between the sacred and the profane — variously light and breathy, and heavy and abrasive, riddled with virtue and blessed with vice.
The big-n-gritty, pulsating arrangement suits the message of her song well. Although it’s called “Levitate,” the evocative lyrical themes are heavy enough to prevent any violation of gravity’s pull. In other words, the only levitation going on comes at great personal cost and is anything but a feeling of weightlessness.
When Wren sings, “When I medicate/Baby, I can levitate/’Til you’re nothing but an echo,” you can feel the weight. So too with “Wrap my hands around your neck/Can I get a little respect?/Burn me at the stake/Baby, I will levitate.”
These words speak to the very real feelings one has when a relationship dissolves, often when you’re the dissolver: What, I’m the witch because I was the one who had the courage to speak the truth — to say this isn’t working; to say you need help? After which, you feel the weight of the guilt that accompanies all of that, so you medicate to forget. Whatever your poison — alcohol, drugs, television, a busy schedule — you’re stuck in it because of the guilt.
On “Levitate,” Wren taps into dark, visceral concepts with her lyrics and pairs her words with a catchy and gritty pop arrangement. With her music, she layers on just enough rawness to complement her lyrical themes, but doesn’t go over the top with the darkness. It would be easy to sing those words over a darkwave arrangement, but it’s far harder to make hell sound so uplifting.
You buy the song today on iTunes and other places or stream it on Spotify (below).
For more information on the artist, Vehlinggo has Nola Wren content galore. The first interview was fresh off the release of “Save The Day,” her collaboration with David “College” Grellier. An interview for “Venom” followed. There’s also her song, “College,” which was the catalyst for her first communication with Grellier and which NYC-based remix guru Lucian touched up to great effect.