In the wake of his latest LP as Oneohtrix Point Never, the inimitable work of Daniel Lopatin felt like it was on the brink of a seismic shift. Released earlier this year, Age Of partially recontextualised the childlike patterings of the Juno-60 synthesiser that’s been a constant cornerstone of Lopatin’s output, but it was evidently the first step towards a new fictional realm; a more focused mining of the artificial nostalgia generated by traditional pop vocals. In short, that album’s title felt like an open question regarding man’s attempt to infuse machinery with humanity — the age of what, exactly? It’s a shame then that his new four track EP pointedly avoids developing his answer to that question.
Titled Love in the Time of Lexapro, this latest release (the second Lopatin has dropped since Age Of) feels purposefully slight, falling somewhere between a collection of odds and ends, and a less pressurised space in which to flex offbeat creative tissue. Since two of the aforementioned four tracks are reworkings of songs from Age Of by tangential talents — the virtuosic techno-pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, and the heart-on-his-sleeve garage dweller Alex G (Sandy) — Lopatin unsettles any illusion of cohesion from the off. Whilst his last EP, The Station, defined itself through claustrophobic knocks and swells, Love… never commits to a guiding principle.
Arguably there’s an attempt on the A-side to match Lopatin’s work with a kindred partner, and, to his credit, Sakamoto’s concave synth pads pair effortlessly with the measured majesty evoked by Lopatin’s title track. Both ‘Love in the Time of Lexapro’ and Sakamoto’s remix of ‘Last Known Image of a Song’ centre on a simplistic core thesis made up of drawn-out ambient sighs that each artist then tinkers around, evoking both the grandly glacial and the minutely human. Even so, both tracks are relatively thinly sketched — the sort of pieces that would function well as part of the undulating LPs Lopatin specialises in, rather than as the bulk of a shorter one.
However, it’s the curio of Alex G’s contribution that feels the most out of place, even as it’s the most fully formed song of the four. Coming hot off the heels of the stuttering interlude-at-best B-side ‘Thank God I’m a Country Girl’, Alex G’s cover of ‘Babylon’ initially seems like it could have happily slid into any of his own Bandcamp releases. The fact of Lopatin’s restraint here is its greatest asset, a barely quivering synth the only hint of his touch before the song reaches its quietly rapturous finale: a fever pitch of strained vocals and sobering strings. Despite being an outlier here, an EP constructed solely of these lo-fi indie moments being deftly punched-up by Lopatin’s production would’ve been a far more interesting prospect than this loose medley of nothingness.
If the title of Age Of pointed towards the ambivalence surrounding an increasingly technocratic world order, then Love in the Time of Lexapro suggests a more winking deconstruction of said topics — a query into whether romance has any place in an oft insular self-medicating society. Instead this EP is just an excuse to throw out some of the random detritus accrued from Lopatin’s otherwise accomplished year. It’s worth a whirl sure, if only for the Alex G track, but it’s not a release we’ll be revisiting to once Lopatin offers us a proper return to his new age.
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