Moses Sumney - "Lonely World" (Singles Going Steady)

by PopMatters Staff

10 October 2017

Rarely has isolation been so full-bodied in music as in Moses Sumney’s "Lonely World", a song that gives melancholy voice to the poetry of alienation.
Photo: Ibra Ake 

Adriane Pontecorvo: Rarely has isolation been so full-bodied in music as in Moses Sumney’s “Lonely World”, a song that gives melancholy voice to the poetry of alienation. It opens with lonesome guitar and slowly rising vocals before picking up fantastic momentum. From that point forward, a rush of increasingly frenzied beats back Sumney’s dizzying lyrics, and the sonic layers build and build to paint a full portrait, detailed with light and shadow, both intimate and vast. “Lonely World” has the scope of an epic, but a spirit laid totally, beautifully bare. [10/10]
  

Tristan Kneschke: A spare beat and falsetto vocals provide the lonely soundtrack to Moses, a beach wanderer who discovers a helpless mermaid. This is a horrific moment, as not only is the mythical woman flailing on the rocks literally like a fish out of water, but her mouth seems sewn shut. When Moses opens the orifice, she vomits. Moses lifts her in his arms, assuming a kind of hero role, the opposite of what the mermaid needs (she is, after all, an aquatic being that needs water). She fights him, and ultimately he succumbs to her environment, overturning a man’s assumption that women even need saving in the first place. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: Everybody’s lonely. Sometimes it hurts so bad that one just has to say it to oneself over and over again.  From William Carlos Williams to Sonny Boy Williamson this has been a trope of modern art. The music captures that feeling but then covers it up with a dark vibe instead of letting it out. The video itself is kind of stupid. Who needs mermaids when other people are the only answer? Your dreams won’t kill you, but doing nothing but dreaming may. [5/10]

William Nesbitt: Reminiscent of Jeff Buckley and Kele Okereke, the vocals and the song wash over us in a gentle tune exploring loneliness. The video features a male character who finds a mermaid washed up on the beach and wastes no time in trying to romance her up. The encounter seems to culminate in some sort of tumbling mermaid sex. One can’t be sure if she is entirely or always into it. However, it becomes a moot point when she hits him in the head with a rock, drags him out to sea, and our last image of him is of him gasping for breath and disappearing under the water. Love on the beach seems to be a chancy endeavor. Remember that the album this comes from is Aromanticism. A love song for the loveless. I’m curious about what’s next. [8/10]

John Garratt: It’s hard to get a handle on this one. What is the mood? Where in the guitar figure can you stick the pin? Why so much falsetto? How is this supposed to make us feel? There are probably even more questions I can’t form into words. My main takeaway is how the repeated “lonely” accidentally reminds me of Zeppelin. [5/10]

SCORE: 7.00

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