Coronavirus took a lot away from people this year, and each new release, be it a movie or album, comes with a faint reminder of what we can’t do with it. Can’t see that new film in theaters, or with a group of friends. That upcoming, likely will be awesome Jessie Ware record? Gotta dance to it in your bedroom.
Night Stone, the partnership between producers Lazerbeak and ICETEP, serves as another reminder of the nightlife no longer possible for the foreseeable future. Their self-titled debut runs on propulsive electronic beats ideal for a night out or the pregame leading up to it. The stadium-sized synths of “Rocks” expand outwards right at the album’s onset, receding to leave an echoing cavern for the beat to start to fill slowly. It’s an effect similar to Röyksopp and Robyn’s “Monument”, a track the grounded beat juxtaposed with ascending synths gives the track a looming quality. However, in Night Stone’s case, it streamlines towards the end where it picks up the tempo, which remains upbeat for the remainder of the album.
From there, the guests, all of them from Lazer and ICE’s hometown of Minneapolis, begin to pour in. The most prominent is vocalist and Lizzo hype woman Sophia Eris, who sings and raps her way through almost half of the album’s songs. The shout out to the matrons in life, “Monica”, becomes a bit obnoxious as it goes on, but you have to applaud a banger dedicated to aunts, who rarely get this kind of love from the depths of the DJ booth.
Coincidentally, or perhaps intentionally, not all of Night Stone resounds with positivity. “Do you want me in real life,” singer Lady Midnight inquires atop of the menacing, bubbling production of “IRL”. Such is a fair question to ask before the romance goes any further; once you see who’s behind your screen, will you still want them tomorrow? Despite the confidence in the rap portions, “Conquer Time” is less of a declaration and more of a mantra, one Eris admits she can only “tryna” do.
With that in mind, some tracks try too little to differentiate themselves from others. As said before, the BPM of Night Stone never dips into anything resembling moderato, meaning tracks can whisk past you before they can fully register. “Dreams Too” also shares the same menace of “IRL”, and coupled with the same vocalist from that track, it’s easy to confuse them for each other.
The album’s finest moments reveal themselves in its latter half, starting with “Night Rider”. Chenny Leaneagh of Poliça captures the loneliness of the midnight hour, the lone guitar offering a bit of comfort in her solitude. Finally free of the ominous aura of the earlier tracks, Lady Midnight gets another chance to shine on “Echo Love”, trapped in a passionless relationship but handling it with the grace of a true house vocalist. Eris, too, finds her best footing late in the album on the penultimate “Chance”. Lazer and ICE drape her voice in an entire wardrobe of different effects, each section presenting her in a new coating of Auto-Tune.
A funky, glossy slice of dance music, “Chance” deserves to be heard in the club scene it conjures. And yet, a line like “That ain’t gotta be the only time it shows” reminds the listener that the potential for dancing is not exclusive to designated dancefloors. Turn this up loudly enough in your quarantine abode, and your feet will move as if they’d just waited in line for the opportunity.