Over the past few years, Sven Eric Gamsky, more commonly known by his moniker Still Woozy, has attracted a significant following for his idyllic bedroom electro-pop without having ever released more than a handful of singles and an EP. However, last month, the self-described “curator of sounds” released If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is—his first full length album to date! While in many ways, these thirteen new songs are a continuation of his sample-rich and infectiously funky sound, they also depict Still Woozy with more nuance than ever before. Although I would have reviewed this album anyways, thanks to a press conference hosted by °1824 at Universal Music Group, I was fortunate to be able to virtually sit down with Sven amongst a panel of interviewers and hear him answer questions/ ask him a couple of my own! To that end, this piece will will be a pseudo-album review intertwined with some interview commentary!
The tracklist opens up with Woof, whose bouncing rhythms juxtapose the warning, “you wouldn’t last a day in my head, you should try it out sometime.” And try it out, we do—this admonition is an ingenious way to invite us into his musical psyche because it introduces how this album will be a departure from past music in both sound and subject matter. Sven told us how he had only been writing songs about his partner up until now, but songs like “Woof” and “These Days” showcase the other themes weaved through the album that establish themselves among the love songs.
From “Woopie” to “Window,” it’s clear that regardless of a happy or sad topic at hand, the contagious grooviness that typifies his sound is still intact, particularly in “Get By.” This may be his most danceable track yet! When asked about his upcoming tour, Sven said he is looking forward to playing all of these faster songs live, hearing the crowd sing them back, and seeing everyone get a little rowdy, but he is exceptionally excited to perform this one. I asked him what one of his ideal places to perform would be, and he responded, “Red Rocks [Amphitheatre in Colorado] would definitely be a dream venue.” Suddenly, scream-singing Sven’s favorite lyric on the album, “I locked you out and fell asleep and / you 007’d your way back in,” is the newest item on my concert bucket list.
An especially notable feature is the waltzing, nostalgic acoustics strung through “Drake.” Not only is this soft, swaying sound a first for Sven, but it again contrasts a melancholic message—a desire to simply be happy that is repeated longingly throughout the song. Sven shared that this song’s warm-and-wistful sound was inspired by that of Nashville’s own pedal-steel-wielding Peter Drake, hence the name of the track.
Another standout is “All Along,” a sharply authentic bop that Sven stated was his proudest moment on the album because it is the most personal he has ever gotten with a song.
“Kenny,” the ninth song on the LP, paints a genuine and overt depiction of Sven’s struggles with mental health: “Don’t pay me no mind, I’ll be fine / I’ll pull myself together this time / I’ll try to be someone who could hold up alone.” This is arguably the only song that is as sad sonically as it is lyrically, a combination that is very off-brand for Still Woozy. Regardless, Woozy fans everywhere embraced it with open arms and tear-stained cheeks.
If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is seesaws between the happy, the sad, the sunny, and the somber, and this duality is new terrain for Still Woozy. Sven spoke to this, explaining that “the balance mirrors the balance of longing and dealing with my own turbulent emotions. It would be misleading if all the songs were happy. I make music to calm myself, it’s this weird dichotomy.”
But this dichotomy works to reveal the inherent multifacetedness in the album and in Still Woozy himself. Sven approaches the topic of mental health by emphasizing “approachability;” instead of being “super eloquent or verbose,” he gets “straight to the point,” thus preserving the infamous easy-listening ambience of Still Woozy past while simultaneously getting deeper and more authentic than ever before. In this way, this alt-pop album is not only a playful mixture of a myriad of different sounds and influences, but also an invitation to get to know him, mental health struggles and all. He bids us farewell with the sentiment “I know that it’s hard to see me like this, but I’m glad you’re here.” To say I was happy to be there, both listening to this album and talking to Sven, is an understatement—I was dizzy with excitement, and to be honest, I’m still feeling a little woozy.
You can listen to If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is below, and catch Still Woozy in Nashville on January 29, 2022 at Marathon Music Works!