It’s fair to say we’ve waited a long time for this. A full 18 months in fact. Followers of the site will know since we first sampled the sultry & stylistic ‘You Know You Like It’ (read the original post here) the expectation and furor surrounding AlunaGeorge has been almost palpable.
Effectively graduating from the “class of 2011″, a year in which the likes of Jessie Ware, Disclosure & Sampha emerged to deliver a new, eclectic breed of crossover R&B with House-esque overtones that could hardly have been more successful. With the exception of Sampha (SBTRKT collabo’s aside) the aforementioned have gone on to receive critical acclaim alongside chart success with their debut album’s respectively. Yet for Aluna Francis & George Reid however It was only ever a matter of when & not if with ‘Body Music’. As tedious but promotionally effective delays to the albums release meant we’ve had to wait patiently to finally sample what has been one of the most anticipated albums of 2013 in its own enigmatic, genre defying style that has, as expected, been well worth the wait.
Having been fortunate enough to sample the debut live & in full at the Electric Brixton show in June, it’s evident the duo have created something consummately under their terms. Performing for a full if slightly surprising 90 minutes, there’s a clear confidence & belief in what they have created, an assurance that is reciprocated by a sold out audience who proceed to sing & dance for the duration, much to the obvious delight of an exuberant Aluna who’s stage presence is undeniable.
The record kicks off with ‘Outlines’, a somewhat surprising starter but possessing all the elements that we’ve come to associate with the London duo. A slow burner, this is all about Francis’ soft tone, filling the track with enough space for George to echo & extend the vocal in expert fashion. A calming album opener that set’s things up perfectly for the more familiar territory of ‘You Know You Like It’, with that unashamedly 90’s inspired R&B production continuing to sound as fresh as ever which moves proceedings into the more fidgety, pop-style workings of the chart topping ‘Attracting Flies’.
Hell-bent on keeping the listener in singalong mode it’s straight into another heavy hitter in the form of ‘Your Drums, Your Love’. Beginning with an absorbing rippled echo it encompasses emotive elements alongside an upbeat R&B melody that displays the type of quality the duo are capable of creating. It’s this point however where it starts to get interesting. Now the chart topping successes are out the way, this is the point where the album’s supporting cast ought to stand up & be counted, and in the form of ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ & ‘Bad Idea’ its very much a turn into breezy pop production territory.
By no means are these tracks lacking, ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ is a no-thrills poppy affair with Aluna clearly in homage to the 90’s by citing; “I’m crystallized ‘cos you’re my, Kaleidoscope Love…” whilst the bubblegum feel to ‘Bad Idea’ would be the perfect B-side if they ever opted to for single success. Evidently not the most impressive cuts but where these lack the softer, effortless vocal and beautifully mellow production on ‘Diver’ take us back into hit rate mode. It’s a flawless exercise in modern R&B that isn’t so much focused on chart success but pitching the tone down slightly & creating a flawless slow jam that deserves genuine credibility.
Out of the next batch the ones that merit some attention, like ‘Superstar’ & ‘Just A Touch’, are probably the guilty pleasures of the weaker entries which in upbeat presumptuous pop mode, fail to stimulate in the same manner as ‘Attracting Flies’ or even ‘White Noise’ which doesn’t feature here. Title track ‘Body Music’ and ‘Friends To Lovers’ round off the album perfectly, with that soulfully tweaked analogue organ sound in freestyle mode on the latter that resonates a sound reminiscent of the Aaliyah, D’Angelo era. The exact reason why we took notice of the duo in the first place.
One of the drawbacks of Body Music are in the strongest tracks being those that have already been released; the aforementioned “You Know You Like It”, “Attracting Flies”, and “Your Drums, Your Love” all stand defiantly in that order. Whilst the rest of the album certainly doesn’t disappoint – it will definitely remain on our playlists throughout the summer – there aren’t any tracks that that fall into the risk taking category.
Even still there’s more than enough here to warrant their title as The Sound of 2013 & this has every chance of breaking the US market too. The hype around this has ultimately been justified as the class of 2011 look to have put the UK sound firmly back on the map.
is out via Island Records & is available on iTunes now.