Zsela Makes a Glorious Return on "Fire Excape"

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Kaelen BellPublished Mar 5, 2024

We haven’t heard much from NYC’s Zsela since she released her restrained, dusky Ache of Victory EP back in 2020. Apart from releasing the frenetic, technicolor remix EP that followed in 2021, the mercurial songwriter has kept to the music world’s periphery, quietly circling inspiration and dropping subtle hints of a return. The wait has been worth it — Zsela’s comeback single (and her first for new label home Mexican Summer) is far and away the best thing she’s ever done, a stunning, measured piece of destabilizing art rock that sharpens the sombre threads of her previous work into glassy needles of light.

Equal parts Prince and Strange Mercy-era St. Vincent, “Fire Excape” finds Zsela lurching against elastic-band bass, silvery funk guitar and blasts of blinding synths, a sturdy beat from producers Daniel Aged and Gabe Wax moving with the momentum of a love-struck heartbeat. “Day breaks on the fire escape / And I’m falling in love,” she sings, her voice round and weighty as a river stone. There’s a sense of apocalypse looming over Zsela’s fire escape, end-times shadows passing through the sunlight. If this is what it sounds like to fall in love at the end of all things, might we all be so lucky. 

(Mexican Summer)

Latest Coverage