Indie Music

One to watch: New York

New York’s name may be totally un-Googleable, but their sound is bracing and completely distinct from the rest of the experimental pop scene. The London-based duo – American Coumba Samba and Estonian Gretchen Lawrence – make unnerving electronic music that’s anchored by deadpan, uncannily processed vocals. Their debut album, No Sleep Till NY, was one of 2022’s best discoveries: a record that synthesised icy electro, body-shaking reggaeton beats and brazenly filthy lyrics into one addictive package. Its highlight, LA, sounds like an urbano classic covered by stereotypical US sorority girls, while the pulsating Makeout is 11 minutes of tense industrial dance music cut with a droll spoken-word hook: “I hate myself/ I hate myself/ You should see how much I can’t stand myself/ Because I’m a lazy bitch.”

Lawrence and Samba, both in their 20s, are visual artists first and foremost, and have shown at London galleries Arcadia Missa, Galerina and Emalin among others. Their live show is revealing of this pedigree. At a show supporting buzzy Matador signees Bar Italia last year, the pair performed in a lone spotlight in the middle of the crowd, singing and dancing next to an open laptop and a bottle of water. Since No Sleep Till NY they have released one single, Night N Day, which turns the hook of Ladytron’s 2000s electroclash classic Seventeen into a throbbing, aqueous dub track. Between this and Skinny Jeans, from No Sleep Till NY, it would be easy to position Samba and Lawrence as part of the much debated “indie sleaze” revival that’s supposedly going on – but New York are far smarter and more slippery than to slot easily into the zeitgeist like that.

Comments Off on One to watch: New York