Sophie’s music can be hard to listen to in long stretches, evoking mass production and the artificiality of pop culture with exaggerated, cartoonish glee alongside abrasive, dissonant beats. One of the vanguards of the PC Music movement, which shot stolid electronic music through a funhouse mirror and came out stretched, loopy, and comic, Sophie’s sole release is the eight-track collection Product, most of which consisted of her insanely dense singles released over 2013 and 2014. In them, her voice was warped and artificial, almost robotic, adding a sense of mystery that she reinforced by hiding her face behind digital imagery and even going to her own shows as a bodyguard while an impostor performed.
Today, that artful anonymity ended, as she took center stage with her first new solo track in years alongside an eye-popping, surreal video:
The luminous ballad is paired in the video with neon clouds and rainbows, climaxing in an almost J-pop fantasia of spinning stars. The self-directed video also marks the first time she’s appeared publicly, and it’s the most traditionally song-like work of her career, taking the experience gained working with artists like Charli XCX, Madonna, and Vince Staples to create a more transparent star turn of her own. “It’s Okay To Cry” is an ‘80s pop ballad monster, its sincerity as shocking, in its way, as the intentional artificiality of Product was. Next week Sophie debuts a new live performance at Red Bull Music Academy Festival; here’s hoping there’s more new music like this along with it.