Bangers & Grime impresario Luca Venezia conjures vast echoing spaces and strobe-lit throngs in his second full-length.
A journey through a club kids' night, We Never Sleep opens at twilight, with uncharacteristically lush harmonies, before it breaks into a skittery, syncopated rhythm. "Drop it to the ground, girl," urges Drop the Lime main man Luca Venezia, against a vibratingly hard synth line and bulldozer beat. The cut borrows a dirty, claustrophobic echo from dubstep, but it's far less minimal and ominous than of this genre. There are vocals, shouted, chopped and electronically manipulated, but voices all the same, putting a human warmth around robotic beats. This is party music, maybe a little darker and more complicated than usual, but body-rocking to the core.
The best cuts run through the middle, starting with "Hot Sauce Grillz", a slammed out, cowbell-banging core embellished by eerie synthetic vibrations. Kinetic and unearthly, hypnotically repetitive, it pulses ahead with a life of its own, broken only occasionally by dream-like sung intervals. "Coal Oven Fevers", constructed from jittery piano splatters and ice cool harmonized voices, alternately shimmers and bumps. There's a relentless physicality to the four-on-the-floor beat, but there's serene otherness, too, a place for your mind to go while your ass moves. "Bella" is even more insistent, electro-squiggles erupting from its dirty pounding. Venezia is screaming "What's your percent?" over and over, like some sort of accusation, but the real command comes from the bass drum thump. It's pumping like a sprinter's heart from the start to the end. One, two, three, four... One, two, three, four... it's so solid, with an almost tangible thrust, as it echoes against pitch black atmospherics and tightly coiled synth riffs. "Full Moon Rising" is somewhat cartoonish by comparison, its frat-boy singalong chorus of "Boom, boom, boom!" a little too easy.
The disc peters out with a couple of late-album downtempo cuts, electro burbles and chilled soul vocals evoking a pre-dawnish, trip-hop vibe in "Turn Out the Light", and synth-bass heavy "Skyline Fantasy". There's still a beat going, but it's washed over with pastel textures, less threatening now that the sun's starting to come up. We Never Sleep is fun but ephemeral, a sleek, enjoyable excursion through heavy beats and fashionable dangers. You should probably hear it in a club to appreciate it, but it rocks pretty hard even at home.