Release Date: Sep 16, 2016
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Club/Dance, Left-Field Pop
Aluna Francis and George Reid’s 2013 debut album, Body Music, was created in isolation, its alluring mix of synth-pop and R&B eked out alone in a dingy London studio. Since then their musical horizons have been exploded by nonstop touring and a hit in America with DJ Snake’s remix of You Know You Like It. Augmented by a handful of collaborations, and more musically scattershot than their debut – Mediator channels Sade, Not Above Love is Blu Cantrell’s Breathe updated, Wanderlust is shimmery chopped and screwed balladry – the outward-looking I Remember feels driven by a thirst to experiment.
When AlunaGeorge released their debut album ‘Body Talk,’ the combination of George Reid’s wobbly beats and Aluna Francis’s silky vocals came with the tag “future pop. ” Three years later and that description has proved to be curiously prophetic. The pair are back, but now find themselves in a Top 40 landscape owing much to the sound they helped popularise; even DJ Snake had a chart-busting hit with his version of ‘You Know You Like It.
AlunaGeorge were considered a breath of fresh air when they started making waves at the back end of 2012, especially compared to the largely homogenous and uninspired pop dominating the charts. As a result, it was not long before the electropop duo were being shortlisted on pretty much every ‘ones-to-watch’ list going, including nominations for the Critics’ Choice at the 2013 BRIT Awards and the BBC’s Sound of… poll for the same year. The London pair, made up of Aluna Francis (vocals and songwriting) and George Reid (everything else), missed out on the top prize in both cases – inexplicably finishing behind Tom Odell at the BRITs after coming second in the BBC’s standings.
The debut album by the London duo of vocalist/lyricist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid was a collection of high-tempo fluorescent pop called Body Music that came out two years ago to much hype but little cut-through. Appearances on other artist’s tracks since (most notably Diplo and Skrillex’s To Ü) may have given them an idea, though, and collaborators from dancehall star Popcaan to pop-house favourite Flume have lent their services to follow-up I Remember. The result is a work that maintains the group’s penchant for sweet melody and upbeat refrain, but with a richer sound underneath.
AlunaGeorge’s debut was a sleek collection of dance pop that kept listeners on their toes by subverting expectations and thriving on the impressive chemistry of Aluna Francis and George Reid. Their second LP sidesteps the sophomore slump by throwing in elements of more radio ready electronic music. The duo is touring the United States with Sia, and clearly aimed to give her some competition when it comes to stadium suitable songs.
AlunaGeorge's debut, Body Music, was written and produced almost exclusively by Aluna Francis and George Reid. Nothing off the album was close to as successful commercially as certain collaborations and remixes that preceded and followed it. Disclosure's "White Noise" nearly topped the U.K. pop chart.
AlunaGeorge have been getting by with a little help from their friends. Not that they need it, of course. The English duo’s debut album, Body Music, was released to some serious critical praise: a slick, self-assured demonstration of Aluna Francis’ unique vocals and George Reid’s intuitive synth-R&B production. Yet their second effort, I Remember, is laden with collaborations and this is entirely by design.
Few pop bands mix altitudes with the ease of AlunaGeorge. Down in the soil are producer George Reid’s basslines—sluffing, roiling creatures of many legs and the ceaseless forward motion of the animal brain. And up in the ether is singer Aluna Francis’ filmy, nasal falsetto, gathering frost as it drifts along. Off the strength of their first, excellently slippery electro-R&B singles, “You Know You Like It” and “Your Drums, Your Love,” they were shortlisted for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll, eventually coming in second (to Haim).
Ours is a culture that celebrates ambition and achievement above most things. That said, ambition is only considered laudable under a set of remarkably stringent conditions, and the ambitious can as easily be cast as abject and contemptible as they can heroic and brilliant. Women, of course, have long been punished for their ambition in male-dominated spheres.
Part of a recent vanguard of electronic artists producing cutting-edge dance laced with pop hooks, UK duo AlunaGeorge’s well-received 2013 debut Body Music led to big-hitting collaborations with the likes of Skrillex, Diplo and Disclosure. Their second album charts a similar path, though there’s been a further shift towards the mainstream. The likes of Hold Your Head High and Heartbreak Horizon aim straight for the pop jugular, though lack strong enough melodies to compensate for their over-simplified production.
AlunaGeorge tend to fall squarely on the electronic side of the electropop spectrum. Initially joining forces through a remix, electronic music’s favorite form, Aluna Francis and George Reid’s early work was a headrush of glitchy bells and meandering vocals. At that point George was just a collaborator, beaming in via MySpace to remix a track from Aluna’s old band My Toys Like Me, but even then they complemented each other well: Aluna had no issue with George freely tweaking her already confident voice and George had no problem with Aluna’s mercurial songwriting.
AlunaGeorge 'I Remember' (Island Records)AlunaGeorge’s second album offers a distinctly 2016 soundtrack to the summer. Bolder and with increased confidence, ‘I Remember’ sounds more succinct and complete than 2013 debut ‘Body Music’. The swaggy synths of ‘Full Swing’ sound like what Major Lazer might come up with for Rihanna and mysterious producer ZHU lends his hip hop beats to the sensual ‘My Blood’, while ‘Not Above’ and ‘Hold Your Head’ are clear festival anthems.
The assurance present in I Remember practically begs you to ask if AlunaGeorge ever even heard of the term “sophomore slump.” In 2016, vocalist Aluna Francis and beat-maker George Reid find themselves in a market saturated with styles they progressed, with acts like Lion Babe, Flume, and Nao emerging to add emotive depth to electronic music. Interestingly enough, the growth seen on I Remember seems to also draw from the acts AlunaGeorge undoubtedly influenced, particularly the electronic wobble present in Flume’s music. Built upon the foundations set by their debut, the ambient and subtle Body Music, I Remember intensifies these elements, and thus lands with more assurance and power.