In the SoundCloud slipstream, it’s easy to fall into a sonic daze, especially as you dive deeper into subgenres. One alt-R&B song begins to sound like every alt-R&B song. All indie pop blends into a cotton candy mass gumming up your ears. Conversely, of course, experimentation for the sheer sake of standing out against the flood can often be unpleasant and contrived. There’s a sweet spot to balancing the known and the new that characterizes many of the bigger songs of the last few years.
Brooklyn-based singer Janelle Kroll’s “Numb” takes root in legacies of a disparate group of female vocalists, shades of Sophie B. Hawkins, Alanis Morissette, and Banks mingling in elusive familiarity—the sort that makes comparison slippery, the sum separate from its parts. Regardless of inspiration, “Numb” is simply well-written and constructed. It’s a satisfying song that sounds little like the landscape, sensual without relying on the crutches that typify so much of the SoundCloud slog.