The winning formula of Aluna Francis’ sugary sweet vocals and George Reid’s chic and minimal production rocketed the duo into commercial success three years ago, but sometimes the pair rely on this formula too much.
Experimental yet firmly rooted in pop, their sound appeals to an indie crowd, chart followers, and beat lovers alike. Debut album Body Music although overly polished reflected their sound well and was an exciting introduction to the London duo.
So far this year Alunageorge have featured on a succession of appealing collaborations, with the likes of rising electronic stars Zhu and Kaytranada. They also released the commercial hit ‘I’m in Control’ and the slick, Flume-enlisted title track. I Remember was looking to be an exciting future-pop firework display; however while some tracks explode brightly, many go off, not with a bang but with a whimper.
‘My Blood’ featuring the mysterious producer Zhu is an explosive and dark combination of hip-hop beats with watery piano and synths. Tracks, ‘Not Above Love’ and ‘Hold Your Head High’ however are full of clichéd lyrics and come across too feeble for the usual admirable confidence of Aluna Francis. In contrast the release ‘Mean What I Mean’ featuring up and coming R&B rappers Leikeli 47 and Dreezy is empowering and aggressive with an infectious almighty hook. The lyrics are inspired from an encounter with someone who couldn’t acknowledge a refusal, as Francis spits: “I mean what I mean when I say so / I’m not try’na be mean when I say no.”
The title track is a slow burner but a bright beacon consisting of all the best parts of AlunaGeorge: the soulful vocals, which are put in the spotlight here, and the smooth production which is delicate and beautifully intricate. Thankfully it avoids any clichés as the lyrics vividly explore the feeling of having memories come flooding back after seeing an ex-lover as Francis’, sings, “I remember the fights burning deep into the night… I remember the sound of your heart racing when you do bad things to me.”
I Remember is never particularly poor, but it is frequently dipping under par. The highlights, (which mainly, are all the releases) are a frustrating remainder of how great the duo can be when they experiment beyond their usual formula. The album shines brightest when there is external help but hopefully AlunaGeorge will now begin to stand confidently without the need for extra support.