Last year, nostalgia for the ’90s reached a massive pop music peak with Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s “1999” song and video. The song is replete with references to boy band stars of days past, which the video matches with over-the-top costume design and choreography. It was so widely discussed and beloved that it became the basis of a whole Vulture essay: “Considering the State of Things, Music’s Obsession With Nostalgia Makes a Lot of Sense.”
Although Coska’s “1991” might sound a little too outré to have appeared in Vulture‘s article, it absolutely channels in Charli and Troye’s high-stakes nostalgia. “It takes me/to 1991!” belts Coska’s frontperson, Manna Borg, as the song’s chorus hits, when its tensely glitchy backdrop explodes and transforms into a galactic, horizon-spanning mish-mash of quirky chiptune and skyward synthpop. Or maybe “1991” wouldn’t have fit in that Vulture piece because its title and first chorus lyric are, deceivingly, the only thing connecting Coska to nostalgia.
“1991” sounds thoroughly as though it emerged from the future, sent to us from a time centuries ahead, from another corner of the universe. Its grating but unobtrusive synth stutter and warbled, self-harmonized digital chirping at once recall video games located in outer space and early synth music that offered prophecies of a technology-dominated future. As “Borg” belts “I’m not a satellite,” she makes it clear that nostalgia is at most a small piece of Coska’s pie.
Borg’s belting is perhaps the largest piece of that pie. Sure, Coska’s extraterrestrial production and instrumental choices comprise its backbone, but the drama and heft with which Borg belts her lyrics—and seriously, “belts” is the only appropriate word, because “sings” sells her prowess far short—are responsible for the near-campy intensity that defines the song’s oddly irresistible pull. Borg might not be a satellite, but she can bounce signals both nostalgic and futuristic right back to Earth.