Zsela's 'Big for You' Is a Luxuriant Exhale

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Kaelen BellPublished Jun 14, 2024

Zsela's voice is an anchor. The NYC songwriter's deep, bottom-of-the-throat vocals pull her songs to the dusky half-light of the ocean floor, a molten ball of lead that keeps her high-flying music from floating off into ether.

It's a necessary counter to Big for You's airborne majesty — Zsela's debut full-length and the follow-up to 2020's sombre Ache of Victory, Big for You finds Zsela teaming up with Daniel Aged and Gabe Wax for a suite of songs that expand her sound into new dimensions. Escaping the gloom of her previous EP, Zsela weaves through rubbery funk guitars, liquid synths, glittering acoustics and wide vistas of atmosphere. The album sounds uniformly gorgeous, dewy and dotted with unexpected trap doors — the way "Fire Excape" slams against a wall of sudden synth; the cliffside collapse that interrupts the spritely momentum of "Still Swing."

Zsela's vision of art-pop is expansive and rich but never frenetic, equal parts bluesy folk and wide-eyed '80s elasticity. The album slows slightly in its second half, a considered deflation in energy that feels like a long, satisfying exhale. It's a surprising and comforting listen, the sound of an artist settling luxuriantly into herself. 


(Mexican Summer)

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