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AlunaGeorge: Body Music

Similar Artists: Purity Ring, Charlie XCX, Inc.

Genre: Pop/R&B

Label: Vagrant

 

I was at first disheartened when I came face to face with the wave of “indie” artists who were embracing the sounds of modern radio — specifically the sounds of bubblegum pop and electronic focused R&B (the ones which nearly always contain some kind of glitchy vocal samples from the female vocalist). Don’t get me wrong, I adore pop music — I have no qualms admitting this — but I also feel that the radio has failed us when it comes to variety, or in awarding us any perceivable freedom with our choice of selection. After all, many of us entered the world of “indie” music for the sole purpose of escaping the hollow, cookie-cutter sounds that are endlessly rehashed over the FM waves. However, after further listening, it turns out that the best artists from this indie pop revolution are indeed advancing the limitations of these tainted “pop-radio” genres by approaching them with an experimental aesthetic and a keen ear for sound design.

The London duo of Aluna Francis and George Reid are the next in the wave of “hotly anticipated” acts who are said to be ushering in a new era of pop music. Granted, while there’s nothing on AlunaGeorge’s debut album that sounds miles away from the current strands of top charting radio, Body Music manages to be accessible, catchy and left of center all at the same time. You’ll immediately be reminded of groups like Purity Ring; although I would say that AlunaGeorge are less formulaic and more innately talented than them. Through the 13 tracks, the duo seem to go back and forth from maximalist, club oriented songs like those from Charli XCX, to minimalist, sensually moving tracks like those from Inc.’s debut No World. The thing is, the duo seem to not know which one of these styles they have perfected (hint: it’s the latter). It’s during the more somber, melancholically led pieces where we hear some real hard earned honest emotion from the duo. The songs that tackle these themes, such as “Outlines”, “Diver”, and “Friends to Lovers”, all contain lower BPM’s and are close to perfect in their own right, whereas the more dance oriented tracks such as “Lost & Found” and “Superstar”, are tightly sung and smartly produced, but overall unremarkable for a lack of ingenuity.

The musicianship on the album is consistently excellent, but after AlunaGeorge topped the UK charts a few months back with “White Noise”, they probably felt a lot of pressure to bring out the bangers with this release. Still, they should know that they don’t need to “go big” to make the necessary splash. The fact that major label artists are often pressured to make chart topping singles might be the main reason they are so frequently forgotten with time — as another artist is sure to outdo the last when it comes to louder drums and more radiant synths. The previously released “Your Drums, Your Love” happens to be the album’s one exception to big = forgettable, as it ends up sounding crowd pleasingly massive as well as acutely tuned emotionally — like every great single should be. Sadly, while “Best Be Believin” does its best to become the pivotal album climax — as it includes a grander array of instruments, such as acoustic guitar, piano, and a choir — in the end, it feels as if they tried too hard to make a spectacle out of it. Consequently, it doesn’t feel as honest or real as the best material here.

It’s quite ironic that the best bits off of an album called Body Music happen to be the least dance oriented ones, but it turns out the album title has more to do with the album’s lyrics — which deal with the most basic of human needs: to have physical human interaction. Aluna deals with this theme accurately lyrically, and as it turns out, the two are indeed good songwriters — although certainly not yet in the top tier. Still, although the album is far from perfect, it shows undeniable promise, especially when it’s at its most introspective. Few pop acts have the power to keep us enticed without the use of in your face bass and frenetic sampling; while AlunaGeorge certainly do bombard us with these elements a handful of times, it’s during the quietest moments where we peer into their hearts and realize their true potential.

 

Track Listing:

1.) Outlines*

2.) You Know You Like It

3.) Attracting Flies

4.) Your Drums, Your Love*

5.) Kaleidoscope Love

6.) Bad Idea

7.) Diver*

8.) Lost & Found

9.) Best Be Believin

10.) Superstar

11.) Just A Touch*

12.) Body Music

13.) Friends to Lovers*

 

Album Highlight – *