Photo: Angel Ceballos

Jesca Hoop – “The Lost Sky” (Singles Going Steady)

"The Lost Sky" is a gorgeous if troubled reverie, Jesca Hoop's smokey vocals a relentless stream of circular thoughts, memories, and admonitions

Jordan Penney: Each element of “The Lost Sky” seems carefully executed to create a sense of tension. The arrangement consists of guitar and bass, and its relative simplicity and repetition create a gently propulsive rhythm. The vocal melody is an unbroken march through three lengthy verses, and until the chorus Hoop barely allows herself a moment to add a melodic flourish off the end of a word. It has a restless quality. The lyrics suggest the carrying of a haunting burden — “I walk the dark star, the lost sky / Searching for your signal, receive mine” — and neither asks for nor expects redemption. Even the video depicts a disturbing scenario played out again and again, no resolution in sight. A masterpiece of concise and thoughtful songwriting, “The Lost Sky” is also a straightforwardly memorable and appealing song. [9/10]

Jonathan Frahm: As someone who was only recently initiated into Jesca Hoop’s music thanks to her 2016 effort with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, I can’t say that I’ve come into this new single with eyes wide open – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, beyond a good piece of music! I’m sure more than a good handful of our readers are in the same boat, so hopefully no one lambastes me for not coming upon this gem of the songwriting world so much sooner. Altogether dark and enigmatic, “The Lost Sky” carries these themes not only in the razor-edged quality of its lyric or in its respective (and very well-done) music video, but in the song’s instrumental makeup. One thing made abundantly clear in Jesca’s work here is that she is fond of unusual and uncanny song construction. Syncopation is a word thrown around a lot by music critics without really knowing what it means, yet I can say with (hopeful!) confidence that this is a technique that she incorporates brilliantly into her work here – to carry the jaunted message of her song with an offbeat rhythm. Like many Sub Pop releases, this one screams quality and ingenuity. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: The slightly knotty arrangement – intertwining guitars and angelic harmonies both fighting for supremacy – really bolster what’s already a terrific song. Hoop’s vocal delivery has a non-stop, breathless laundry list feel to it, which gives it a blinding propulsiveness. In a way, that’s a shame because it prevents the listener from catching everything the first time. But because of that (and so much more), this begs for repeated listens. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: There’s a depth to Jesca Hoop’s voice that makes everything she sings sound more interesting than it is. That’s good, because “The Lost Sky” isn’t terribly special; it’s a song of broken love that never seems to go anywhere. The melody is average, and the guitar work is good, but nothing memorable. It’s a generic kind of pretty, one that feels like the start of something beautiful, but isn’t. Hoop has an abundance of vocal skill, and her self-harmonies are beyond lovely, but the construction of the song fails to excite. Hoop has the potential to take us on a journey. Hopefully, she lives up to that potential better on other tracks from her upcoming album. [4/10]

Andrew Paschal: “The Lost Sky” is a gorgeous if troubled reverie, Jesca Hoop’s smokey vocals a relentless stream of circular thoughts, memories, and admonitions. There’s an uneasiness to the dueling guitar parts that adds a psychological feel to the song, as though we are in Hoop’s head as she hurries down the street or through the woods, muttering softly under her breath. There are so few pauses in the song that it’s easy to lose one’s way, which is, of course, part of its joy. [8/10]

Scott Zuppardo: Haunting minimalist singer-songwriter vibes and a praying mantis! The song and visual effects of the video are raw and cumbersome, something hurts, is amiss or wildly off kilter. Glad to see the longtime indie crooner have a cool major label taking her to town. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the record after these four minutes of reeling. [8/10]

Jesca Hoop‘s new album Memories Are Now releases 10 February via Sub Pop.

SCORE: 7.67