I spent last summer living in a six-floor walk-up down a sweaty side street in the East Village. It was an odd little corner of town, a rare Manhattan cul-de-sac flanked on both sides by low-rise city housing and culminating in a public elementary school and my building—a tall, gray tenement-looking thing that rose out of the city-issue brick like the last remaining arch in an ancient aqueduct. There I sat all summer, two south-facing windows broiling the apartment into a Saharan greenhouse, waiting for the sun to fade into the city stars of the downtown skyline. It was hot and lovely and strange and lonely, and when all the windows were open in the place, the indoors felt like outdoors and the outdoors felt like indoors.

That’s what these songs sound like to me, like they’re feeling their way through the hot night air to get to you. They say raw matter was turned living in a primordial soup of heat and fast, flashing chemical reactions in strange corners of the ocean, but I think they’re wrong—I think it happened in an apartment high above the streets of New York City.