AlunaGeorge: Body Music – review – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | jueves 25 julio 2013 6:07 pm

The singles chart from the week in April 2012 that AlunaGeorge released You Know You Like It makes for depressing reading. Its contents aren’t entirely awful, but it’s hard to avoid the creeping sense that pop music is in the process of becoming the kind of thing that people who hate pop music always claim it is: a cynical, homogenous mass, aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator. David Guetta has four separate entries in the top 50 – collaborations with Usher, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Sia – although he might as well have produced about half of the chart, from Katy Perry’s Part of Me to Breathe Carolina’s Blackout: his generic pop-rave sound even appears to have seeped into Coldplay’s Paradise. The baleful figures of LMFAO, mere months away from announcing an indefinite hiatus, perhaps to recover from some kind of repetitive strain injury caused by making the same record over and over again, have not one, but two, hits. It sounds like pop music has just given up trying: it’s so blatantly, joylessly factory-farmed that it seems a miracle Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall hasn’t started a campaign about it.

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Set against this backdrop, it’s pretty obvious why You Know You Like It stood out. It was audibly unabashed pop music, but sounded nothing like anything in the charts. In contrast to the clotted, compressed pop-rave sound, You Know You Like It was full of light and space, powered by bursts of disjointed, distorted electronics, tugging against singer Aluna Francis’ vocals, themselves an odd, striking combination of airiness and estuary-accented attitude. It was, explained producer George Reid, inspired partly by the experimental electronica of US auteur Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder labelmates, but mostly by R&B of the early noughties, an era when producers Timbaland, the Neptunes and Rodney Jerkins «weren’t afraid to do something a bit weird». In contrast to the US indie bands who’d made music similarly indebted to the R&B of a decade ago – Purity Ring or the Dirty Projectors of Stillness Is the Move – You Know You Like It didn’t sound like a genre exercise, presented with a hint of a knowing smirk. Indeed, read in a certain way, its lyrics could be a manifesto for pop music, dismissing its detractors – «there’s no need to be so damn cool, maybe you’ve got nothing to prove» – and hymning it as a place where you should let your imagination run free rather than be constrained by formulas: «I’m not a follower … don’t take things as they come … don’t tell me what could be done.»

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It was a fantastic single that could easily have sunk without trace, given the prevalent trends. As it is, AlunaGeorge’s debut album – and a re-released You Know You Like It – arrives in a very different climate. The pop-rave hegemony appears to have vanished, and 2013 has seen a succession of genuinely great No 1 singles: Get Lucky, Blurred Lines, Icona Pop’s gleeful I Love It, Duke Dumont’s Need U (100%). Against this backdrop, Body Music sounds like a potential hit, rather than an intriguing curiosity. Toploaded with singles – You Know You Like It, its followup Your Drums, Your Love and the top 20 hit Attracting Flies all hurtle past in the startling first 15 minutes – it’s not an album without its longeurs. There are tracks where the songwriting doesn’t quite spark, or Reid’s obsession with creating hooks out of samples of Francis’ voice starts to feel less like a sonic signature than a gimmick; on Best Be Believing, both these things rather unfortunately happen at once. But they’re overshadowed by moments where the duo’s music matches up to the ambitions unveiled on You Know You Like It. Reid’s production is filled with clever flourishes: the synth line on Outlines matches the lyrics, fading in and out of focus as Francis’ vocals describe a relationship dissolving; Lost and Found sets its wildly commercial melody against a typically idiosyncratic, glitchy take on the skipping rhythm of two-step garage; the title track’s slow-jam lubricity is peppered with cartoonish electronic squeals and squeaks, to baffling but hugely enjoyable effect.

It ends with a version of Montell Jordan’s 1995 new jack swing hit This Is How We Do It that is wittily incongruous («All the gang-bangers forgot about the drive-by,» sings Francis, who used to be a reflexologist) without ever appearing to be a smirking, arch joke. In fact, there’s something infectiously joyous about it: you get the sense the duo love the original too much to let a small matter like the inappropriateness of the lyrics preclude them from covering it. Not for the first time on Body Music, they sound like exactly the kind of people you want making pop music.

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