Wound Down Inside

My new essay on Lana Del Rey, post-maximalist pop, and gender is now up for free at The New Inquiry.


Here’s a sample:

Undercutting the sonic impact of a downbeat is not a new thing. In 19th century European “classical” music, composers softened a song’s harmonic resolution by placing the cadence on an off-beat rather than a downbeat. This technique was called, infamously, a “feminine ending”—“feminine” because it’s a weaker cadence than a conventional, on-the-downbeat one. Might Del Rey be “feminizing” the soar by decelerating it, pulling it back rather than pushing it harder?

Maybe. Though “Ultraviolence” sounds like just another entry in the recent-ish spate of flat, anticlimactic pop songs, it doesn’t share their sonic post-maximalism. This post-maximalism pushes brostep- and EDM-style sonic maximalism even harder, so that maximalism itself shifts registers, sublimating into something else.

This essay pre-figures some of the conclusion of my forthcoming book, Resilience & Melancholy.