It seems like an awfully long time has passed since Aluna Francis and George Reid emerged online to a cloud of hype, a word that carries such short-lived connotations. Were this bright young London pair to be another short-lived victim of the new music merry-go-round, or did they have the substance to breakthrough and exist offline in a true, material fashion?
The question can be answered, in part, by looking at the time frame; ‘Body Music’ is set for its Island release on 29th July, well over two years on from the appearance of their glistening debut double a-side ‘We Are Chosen/Analyser’, building and maintaining anticipation through the fairly generous smattering of tracks we’ve heard, alongside a decent number of live appearances. But the main answer is simpler and more relevant to their longevity; they write completely infectious, accessible and downright cool pop.
And this is the record’s running theme; yes, R&B inspires and 90s garage plays its part, but it is the almost relentless catchiness of their full-length debut that ensures it ticks the mainstream pop success boxes. From the bouncing, subliminal ‘You Know You Like It’ to ‘Attracting Flies” squeaking refrain, it is a fairly titantic challenge not to leave ‘Body Music’ with at least one of its 13 tracks nestled in-between your ears.
Previously heard tracks, like the aforementioned two, do stand-out at first as obvious highlights; “I’ve been treading water for your love” coos Francis’ honeyed vocal in ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, which remains one of the best examples of their uncanny knack for melody. Similarly, the more underground hue to ‘Just A Touch’ shows-off their electro understanding, while ‘This Is How We Do It’, the inspired Montell Jordan cover, is wonderfully fresh and playful.
However, have another listen and potential singles ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ and most notably ‘Lost And Found’ shine brightly. This latter track, with its fidgeting vocal play, dropping into a sparkling, school disco chorus has undeniable chart appeal. “If all you wanted was a lost and found/Should have got me on the rebound” conjures the image of empowered dance floor gesticulation; it just sounds like a garage-inspired hit waiting to happen. ‘Best Be Believing’ provides similar sing-along-ability, with its sugary “Na-na-na-na-na” and clapping, gospel choir ending, before the hometown glory tale ‘Superstar’ maintains this momentum.
It isn’t all just twinkling eletro-pop though. We are eased into ‘Body Music’ by ‘Outlines’ and, although it may have made more sense as a seductive closer to the record, the track is an entirely elegant, calming experience, providing depth and an alluring dimension to proceedings, as well as the greatest example of Francis’ impressive range. ‘Diver’ offers similar respite; with its sweeping vocal line (“I wanna be a diver into the sea”) and funk-infused bass line, it has a clever, relaxing quality to it, despite Reid’s ever-present, bubbling sample work.
Admittedly, there are minor lulls; ‘Bad Idea’ is borderline forgettable, the slow-burning ‘Friends To Lovers’ feels like a superfluous Valentine’s Day ballad, and the title track does little more than reinforce the lush, bubblegum nature of Francis’ vocal, that we are well aware of by the time it arrives.
These discrepancies however, do little to deter, and overall ‘Body Music’ is a glistening, moreish debut, packed with hits that should cement Aluna and George as as two lasting household names in one.