Cynics and people who are, actually, just wrong, might want to accuse Solange Knowles (yes, Beyonce’s kid sister – the one who, quite famously, dragged B and Jay to a Grizzly Bear concert) as desperately trying to rebrand herself with indie-cool. The truth of the matter is proven in this EP which she’s teamed up with Dev Hynes (Blood Organge) as co-writer and primary producer – and that she is, on her own terms, creating authentic pop music built to last.
The seven track EP opens with Losing You, which, regular readers of Cheese on Toast will know, I have repping hard since the moment I heard it; I’d go so far to say that it was the single of 2012 – and it’s lasting the distance – still getting at least one spin per day as the year draws to a close.
Solange has, it seems, thrown convention out of the window – opting to release a seven-track collection as a mini-album / lengthy EP rather than squeeze out an extra couple of tracks to fill it out as a ‘proper length’ album on Terrible Records (a label co-owned by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear). And it works – the adage ‘all killer no filler’ fits perfectly here. “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work” is a perfect continuation to “Losing You” and it even sounds like it’s the second movement to the Losing You prelude; instrumentation gently caresses the song which feels so gorgeously bitter-sweet.
Sparse-snares rat-a-tat while a bass-line of awesome bounces through Locked in Closets while Solange effortlessly catapults the song into the stratosphere with her “All I wanted was to dream of being in love you” refrains and a “Wah-oh-oh-oh” at the 2.55 mark that is so good people might actually die. Her voice is showcased to heart-stopping goodness in Lovers In The Parking Lot – “Played around with your heart / Now I’m playing around in the dark / .. I guess I played myself from the start”. Slow funk ‘chic-ahh’ whispers signpost the way into Don’t Let Me Down and frankly, it’s a song so very easy to get lost in. Truly amazing.
Look Good With Trouble is a slice of wonderful short-wired/short-weird serving as a sort of prelude to the mesmerizing EP highlight – Bad Girls which Blood Orange fans might be forgiven for thinking is a cover – but as Hynes points out on his tumblr – he actually tracked the Solange version before his was released – the bass on this track is performed by Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire “I remember us sitting in the house in Hollywood, nervous, waiting for him to turn up. Solange said to me “You know, as producer, you’re the one that has to like, tell him what to do?” I shat one.”
RATING : FREAKIN’ AWESOME
I have always struggled with a numerical scale; it feels so finite and arbitrary.
So the scale looks like this :
FREAKIN’ AWESOME / JUST AWESOME / REALLY GREAT / GREAT / GOOD / PRETTY COOL / NOT BAD / COULD BE BETTER / PRETTY BAD, ACTUALLY / NOT RECOMMENDED FOR EARS