Album reviews: Jessie Ware 每 What＊s Your Pleasure?, Nadine Shah 每 Kitchen Sink, and Khruangbin 每 Mordechai
On her fourth album, Ware sounds gleefully unhindered in her exploration of desire, while Khruangbin offer a perfectly inoffensive third record. Nadine Shah＊s ＆Kitchen Sink＊ is a strong cocktail, garnished with a lemon twist of her signature wry humour
Jessie Ware 每 What＊s Your Pleasure?
As the title would suggest, Jessie Ware＊s What＊s Your Pleasure? is not a shy album 每 although it might send you a coy wink before asking for your number. The London-born singer＊s fourth record is a shimmering paean to the hedonistic abandon of funk, and brings together a team of musicians who share her love of a good groove.
Greed, lust and want are traditionally undesirable traits, but Ware is unhindered in her gleeful exploration of those very themes. She drapes herself across the velvety soft ※In Your Eyes§ 每 over a bass synth redolent of George Michael＊s ※Fastlove§ 每 and utters ecstatic cries and half-gasps on the pulsing ※Adore You§. Single ※Ooh La La§ is a bass-heavy romp. When she bows out on ※Remember Where You Are§, she flits between Kamasi Washington chorals and Michael＊s ※Freedom§ refrains.
There are small judders of Chicago house on the icy cool ※Adore You§, which later slip into undulations of French touch via synth buzzes and whirls. You＊re brought into the 21st century by the plaintive melodies of ※Save a Kiss§, recalling Robyn＊s ※Honey§; that is, until its cheesy Chic motif brings you back to discoland. What＊s Your Pleasure? reveals the magic that happens when an artist feels truly free.
Nadine Shah 每 Kitchen Sink
When it comes to men and their double standards, Nadine Shah is merciless. ※Call me pretty/ Make your manoeuvre/ One year younger/ Call me a cougar,§ she dares on ※Cougar Club§, about the hypocrisies of men who chase younger women.
Shah＊s new album, Kitchen Sink, serves up the keen social observations heard on 2017＊s Mercury-nominated Holiday Destination, which delivered brooding post-punk about the refugee crisis. The singer-songwriter could now be said to have turned her attention from the personal to the political, but really, she's found that a combination of the two works just fine.
With the album＊s cover depicting a Seventies-style dinner setting, Shah asks how far we＊ve really come in women＊s rights. In 2020, the 34-year-old is still forced to wonder about whether she should marry and have children: ※Shave my legs/Freeze my eggs/Will you want me when I am old?§ she sings on ※Trad§, which likens marriage to a cult. She calls out a gaslighter over the crunching riffs and bold brass of ※Buckfast§.
Shah has never been afraid to say what she thinks, but Kitchen Sink manages to make the most intimate details of everyday life seem expansive and profound. It's a strong cocktail, garnished with a lemon twist of her signature wry humour.
Khruangbin 每 Mordechai
There＊s a justifiable lack of cool around Spotify＊s mood playlists. They＊re useful for anyone who wants the music to wash over them, whenever they＊re feeling ※blue§, ※chill§ or ※laid back§. For Khruangbin, though, getting playlisted helped them reach a wider audience and sell out venues such as London＊s 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy last year.
For a trio from Houston, Texas, Khruangbin＊s sound is remarkably far-flung, with influences as broad as Thai funk and Jamaican dub. On their new album, Mordechai, those sounds are brought together more fluently than they ever have been before. It was inspired in part by Laura Lee Ochoa＊s ※rebirth§ during a tour break in Texas, but reinvigorated they are not.
The music is fine, if aimless. There＊s woozy, lolloping funk and ghostly choruses on ※First Class§, and a deep bass groove on ※We Won＊t Forget§ that rumbles beneath some deft work on the electric guitar. Yet even for an instrumental album, the sheer inoffensiveness of the music leaves you feeling adrift.