AlunaGeorge, ‘Body Music’ – Album Review
AlunaGeorge’s first full-length, ‘Body Music,’ arrives after a year and half of build up, starting with the English duo’s excellent debut EP for Tri Angle Records, ‘You Know You Like It.’ The narrative is familiar enough: bedroom musicians break out of obscurity into the larger indie and electronic music consciousnesses with a killer single. But AlunaGeorge didn’t stop at indie or electronic. Three singles preceding ‘Body Music’ dropped onto the U.K. charts like clockwork, and after working with fellow Londoners Disclosure on that group’s track ‘White Noise,’ AlunaGeorge saw their name climb to the No. 2 spot on the charts back in February.
AlunaGeroge have earned U.K. pop-star status, and for the most part, ‘Body Music’ doesn’t disappoint. The group has sold itself with references to '90s R&B, Neptunes and Timbaland-esque production, as well as a modern sensibility that owes itself to fractured, major-key U.K. bass strains. AlunaGeorge arrived fully formed on ‘You Know You Like It,’ and they’ve only tightened their approach since. But with ‘Body Music’ the group clearly tackles each song individually. It’s an album of singles, and by the midpoint, it’s hard to not feel like the group is repeating itself.
The duo are impeccable songwriters -- theirs are some of the most hard-hitting bridges and choruses in recent memory -- but they use the same general outline for almost every track. There’s a grounded, everyday quality to singer Aluna Francis’ voice and lyrics that elevates the duo well beyond the focus-group-tested pop of the U.S., but she lacks the depth of someone like, say, Jesse Ware. Francis sticks to matters of the heart, and there’s a cleverness and wit to her use of metaphor, as she somehow finds a different image or concept to characterize love on each song. But closer, ‘Friends to Lovers,’ with its gentle energy and detailed feelings of love unacted upon, oddly feels like the only personal song on the record.
Producer George Reid fills each track with earworm-y melodies and delicious peripheral details like the guitar plucks on ‘Kaleidoscope Love'; the diced, gooey synthesizers on the title track; and the subtle organ vamp on ‘Friends to Lovers.’ The album stands on its production choices alone, and while some of the middle tracks like 'Bad Idea,' ‘Lost & Found’ and ‘Best Be Believing’ blur together, most of the songs here are able to stand on their own. ‘You Know You Like It’ and ‘Just a Touch,’ from the debut EP, both reappear on ‘Body Music,’ and the record is made all the better for them. But their inclusion is telling.
While ‘Body Music’ doesn’t really add up to anything more than its individual parts, it’s absolutely a satisfying release. Francis and Reid have an undeniable chemistry, and their music has a playful emotionalism that’s incredibly immediate and re-playable. It’s the kind of record you can leave on repeat and never grow tired of. If you’re looking for 13 of 2013’s most solid pop songs, ‘Body Music’ has you covered.