Review: AlunaGeorge – Body Music
Published on July 29th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
AlunaGeorge have been described elsewhere as “future pop”, but in truth they sound so very ‘now’. Though their debut album Body Music exists on a higher plane of evolution than most of what seems to constitute ‘pop’ these days, it doesn’t point the way forward so much as clarify the standard to which mainstream acts should be aspiring as an absolute minimum.
We weren’t sure what to expect from Body Music; it’s fair to say that we weren’t desperately keen on “Attracting Flies” when we first heard it, so imagine our surprise when the title of follow-up single “You Know You Like It” proved itself irrefutable to us.
(Being honest, there was no surprise; enough time and singles had elapsed between the two for us not to have made the connection. A lesson in not buying the hype or a glaring example of our absent-mindedness? You decide.)
Body Music starts promisingly enough with “Outlines”, George’s analog synths whirring smoothly in and out around Aluna’s sweeter-than-sweet vocal. It’s like superior modern R&B given a deliciously messed-up chillwave makeover, and that’ll do us.
Next up is “You Know You Like It”, so we’ll just be lazy and repeat what we said in the afore-linked singles round-up. *Ahem*:
This dreamy infusion of rubbery synth bass, clacking beat, fluttering synthy bleeps and skittering/gently heaving interludes is all tied together – much as the rug ties together the room – by Aluna’s honey-glazed vocal and the characterful lyrics.
A lovely spread of colours for the synaesthetically inclined, and a steamy sort of smoothness for the lovers: this ‘un’s got you covered.
My, aren’t we clever? Well, no, for this is what we had to say about “Attracting Flies”:
Ooh, parental advisory. How thrillingly illicit! What a surefire way to earn our instant respect and attention. It’s just a shame that the song sounds like a chipmunk covering Ace of Base. You go, girl!
Still, the chorus refrain of “Little grey fairy tales / And little white lies / Everything you exhale is attracting flies” is dead clever, working as it does to anticipate Rocksucker’s intention to attribute its fly-attracting to it being the aural equivalent of a turd, doing so by displaying lyrically that AlunaGeorge and her committee of writers are only too aware of this mental association.
This, however, does not prevent “Attracting Flies” from fulfilling its ‘being a steaming turd’ potential, and furthermore to an extent that not even a chipmunk covering Ace of Base could reasonably aspire to.
It’s possible that “Attracting Flies” caught us in a particularly foul mood. After all, a cursory google reveals the publishing date to have come mere days after Everton were bombed out of the FA Cup by a 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic. Revisited in context, it’s not anywhere near as bad as we made out; in fact, there’s even a nice, Martina Topley-Bird sort of accent thing going on in the vocal. We apologise.
The ensuing “Your Drums, Your Love”, however, is a turd. A polished turd – there are some lovely disorienting touches to the production, you see – but a turd nonetheless, with lyrics that make us want to scream into a pillow lined with asbestos.
“Friends say I’ve got something wrong / Cause I’ve been trying to reach you for so long / For so long, I’ve tried / To reach you baby, don’t you know that / I’ve been treading water for your love / Whether I sink or swim, it’s you I’m thinking of / I’ve been treading water for your love / As my light grows dim maybe you’re not strong enough boy”. Now, where the hell did that come from?
There are some decent enough lyrics elsewhere on Body Music, so goodness knows what happened on “Your Drums, Your Love”. That’s a good song title, too. Basically, they blew it.
From thereon in until the final two tracks, the album plays out as much of a muchness: good for what it is, but still pretty dreary. “Bad Idea” is actually a pretty ace track that’s dragged back into mediocrity by an insipid vocal, while “Superstar” shows commendable chutzpah in detailing someone else’s delusions of grandeur (“He’s a superstar in his own home / He’s a superstar but he’s unknown”), but all in all has too little about it to justify its position atop the high horse.
After five or six tracks of this relative tedium, the title track comes good with a round of zapping synth lazer beams and a crinkly, staggering rhythm. Furthermore, closing track “Friends to Lovers” is perhaps the best of the bunch, a twinkly, benevolently drunken electronic sway showcasing such nifty lyrical touches as “We could be perfect, we could be useless / It could be worth finding out”.
It has apparently been decided elsewhere that AlunaGeorge are essential and that Body Music is to be looked upon as one of 2013’s defining releases. Had the quality of the last two tracks permeated all before it, we shan’t have quibbled; as it is, it’s only really a show of potential. And, going by these decidedly mixed results, that potential has the potential to go either way.
Body Music is out now on Universal Island Records.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!