AlunaGeorge are a duo from London who have been causing waves all over the internet since they released their debut EP, You Know You Like It, in June 2012. They hit the number two spot in the UK featuring on Disclosure’s song ‘‘White Noise’‘, were nominated for the BRIT Critics’ Choice award, and came second in the BBC Sound of 2013 Poll. It’s safe to say that expectations have been high for their debut album, Body Music which has easily stood up to expectations.
Lead singer Aluna Francis may not have the strongest of voices, but she doesn’t need to belt out big notes to get her point, or an emotion across. There’s no moment in the album where you’re blown away by her lungs, but endless belting is being done to death. Numerous wannabe stars on YouTube prove they can sing by attempting to hit notes like Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, and 99% of them fail to reach the right notes, even with endless training behind them. The real talent comes from those who know how to manoeuvre their way through a song, who can effectively express a feeling using their actual voice, not the power of their lungs. This is something Aluna Francis has been blessed with and can be perfectly head on the title track, ‘‘Body Music’‘.
Production is handled by the other half of the duo, George Reid. He cites the Neptunes and Timabland as influences, and while this can be seen, dotted around the album are sounds ranging from two-step and garage to full blown electronic synth. In the same way that Aluna Francis isn’t relying on a big voice, George Reid isn’t making magic with big dance beats that have that familiar bassline ‘drop’. Instead of diving into a song he swims his way through. He makes his beats come alive and talk. The opening of lead single ‘‘Attracting Flies’’ sounds like a catchy conversation that automatically gives the song a bit of a quirky, lively feel.
Most bands will always have a standout member, the one who’s name everybody knows. Think Chris Martin in Coldplay, Beyonce back in the Destiny’s Child days, Brandon Flowers in the Killers, or Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine. Each of the aforementioned could be, or are, a solo artist in their own right. The rest of the band doesn’t define them and their careers. The same can’t be said for AlunaGeorge. Of course, both are exceptionally talented individuals, but would Aluna Francis be anything but another singer desperate to make it if she didn’t fuse so well with George Reid’s beats? I’d like to think so, but I wouldn’t be so sure. In the same way, George Reid could easily be yet another talented producer who’s minimal audience include a few SoundCloud followers and the four walls of his bedroom. They both make the other stand out, and they have a special harmony that wouldn’t be captured in the same way if either stopped working with the other. The sultry tones of Aluna Francis are complimented by the wild, unexpected production of George Reid, in the same way that his beats are glistened by her sounds.
Problems with the album arise when you try and slot it into a certain genre, and then compare it to other artists. If you see it as an electronic/dance album, then comparisons can be made with their peers, Disclosure, or Rudimental and it can be argued that Body Music lacks the energy and fun that the other albums bring. If you put them in the pop category, the album can be seen to have a few hits, such as ‘‘Attracting Flies’‘, ‘‘You Know You Like It’‘, and ‘‘Best Be Believing’‘, while the rest of the album consists of filler tracks. Perhaps it can be called R&B, but then people either expect to hear belting vocals or the perfection of Frank Ocean or the Weeknd. The greatest thing about this album is that it can’t be boxed into a particular genre, yet at the same time, it’s not haphazardly dancing between genres creating a messy sound. It’s a solid piece of work that effortlessly combines a zillion different sounds into one. The influence of Aaliyah can clearly be seen in the vocals, especially on the album closer, ‘‘Friends to Lovers’‘. The lyrics can have the same cheeky vibe that Lily Allen, and others, brought to the table, such as on the catchy song ‘‘You Know You Like It’‘. On the production side, there is no limit to the different sounds and influences. ‘‘Lost & Found’’ has a great two-step rhythm, where as a very minimal sound can be seen in the album opener ‘‘Origin’‘, a song that wouldn’t go amiss on an XX album. Body Music is thus an intelligent hot pot of sounds all meshed together flawlessly, and intelligently; a breath of fresh air.
// Notes from the Road
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