Words: Lloyd Bolton | Photo: Tatiana Pozuelo Mendez
It feels strange to only now be discussing a debut collection by Platonica Erotica (aka Hannah Hayden), who has figured on underground mixtapes and London stages of different sizes for a number of years. In this time her output has already displayed more variety than some artists achieve in an entire career, moving from the shoestring weirdness of ‘Wasted’ to the polished ‘prom singles’ of last year, and arriving most recently at an uneasy lushness with the single ‘I Want to be Every Man I Meet’, part of the new self-titled EP. On ‘Platonica Erotica’, the range of styles explored under this name are drawn together with surprising cohesion, forming a whole that elucidates what the artist is driving at.
What consistently ties Platonica Erotica’s work together is a juxtaposition of self-conscious humour and naked emotion, which establishes a persona she describes as ‘the Greek God of singing karaoke to your crush (in your imagination)’. This style makes the work resistant to lazy comparisons with whoever particular moments of songs might sound like (Julia Holter here, Mitski there). Her interest tends towards the strange and ugly sides of our interior worlds, the debased, the melodramatic, the petty. ‘Your magnum opus is several years of shallow in the making’, she breathes over ‘…Every Man…’, taking on the voice of an insidious recurring thought.
Lana del Ray is a central influence on the delivery and candour of much of Platonica Erotica’s writing, though she is strongest when appropriating this forcefulness to serve her own interests, either offsetting such lyricism with musical strangeness or conversely disturbing soft synth bliss with visceral writing. The reductive label of ‘dreaminess’ that is often applied to women playing slow synth-pop is righteously swept aside by lines about ‘puk[ing] in the sink’ and how ‘lovers eat shit from lovers’. Where the ‘prom singles’ and this EP’s ‘King of New York’ are played a little too straight, the songs here are elevated by a conflict between music and writing. On ‘…Every Man…’, the lyrics feel haunted, mysterious, obscured as they crackle through a nautical pulse, while on ‘Holy Holy’ the intensity of language and feeling seems appropriate as it competes for space against a rhythm that smacks and judders with the faktura of Jay DeFeo concrete.
‘Platonica Erotica’ is a world to get lost in, various but whole. This is all the more impressive given the movement between self-production and collaboration with deathcrash on ‘King of New York’ and Jerskin Fendrix on ‘Holy Holy’, showing the strength of artistic vision underpinning her work. With impressive command, Platonica Erotica brings together the breadth of sounds with which she works in the form of a winding, darkly beautiful sequence of songs.