Leonard Cohen - "You Want It Darker" (Singles Going Steady)

"You Want It Darker" is a compelling exploration into the unknown corners of the human soul.

Andrew Paschal: So sparsely arranged are the elements driving Leonard Cohen's newest release, that if you were to remove any one of them the whole delicate bouquet might collapse. As it is though, the reverent choir, House of Cards-esque baseline, and Cohen's iconic and terrifyingly deep voice combine beautifully to make "You Want It Darker" a compelling exploration into the unknown corners of the human soul. Or rather, the track serves as a preamble to such an exploration. Cohen speaks like one returning from the abyss to share his dark understandings with the uninitiated: "I struggled with some demons / They were middle class and tame / I didn't know I had permission / To murder and to maim," he recites stonily. He questions whether we really wish to know what we will find once the candle is blown out, but promises to serve as our spectral guide if we choose to look beyond the curtain of light. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Leonard Cohen is 82 years old and ready to fight both God and man. The lyrics of "You Want It Darker" make that clear as he pits human weakness against divine arrogance and questions the inescapable paradox of creation. His growl is almost venomous as he declares his own readiness to face his maker. Wisely, the accompaniment stays minimal, consisting of some bare beats, a somber organ in the distance, and a choir joining him as he invokes the Hebrew phrase hineni. An angry prayer for a troubled time. [8/10]

A. Noah Harrison: The 82-year-old Leonard Cohen has nothing to prove anymore, but glory to him for proving himself all the same. Cohen’s vocal tract has always been a dark and hollow place, and “You Want it Darker” does nothing to flush out the demons. A chorus echoes off the walls of the dungeon as his growl pierces the center. His spirit howls on. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: It's comforting to know that Leonard Cohen, well into his 80s, is still doing what he does best. I really see no lessening of the quality of this man's work -- it's almost like he has no choice as there's really no Leonard Cohen contemporaries to compare to. The dark vibe here includes a minimalist drum machine, layers of warm synths and a sympathetic chorus of vocalists all backing up the master, who's still at the top of his game. [8/10]

Paul Carr: As is the case with the best Leonard Cohen songs, the production is sparse enough to allow his haunting voice to take center stage. However, he has found a new way to frame it with the song built on a deep, groovy bass line and flickers of electronica. The genius lies in his way with words with his lyrics clearly demonstrating what a magisterial manipulator of gloom he is. Cohen sounds like he is almost taunting death itself as his weary, rumbling voice darkly reverberates through the speakers. As a whole, it illustrates Cohen’s ability to still write something so captivatingly sombre yet so unique. Darkness never sounded so good. [9/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The king of left of center talk singing is back and... surprise... still cool! Cohen's lyrics poetry in motion, or perhaps lack thereof. There isn't a click more dark then this, knightly dark like a pre-death mantra. It's guttural and spooky. [8/10]

SCORE: 8.17

And here's the Paul Kalkbrenner remix released today...

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.