AlunaGeorge - Body Music (Island)

AlunaGeorge – Body Music (Island)


The iron is very hot for AlunaGeorge this summer.  The London-based electronic pop duo have been on a steady rise to fame for the past year thanks to an impressive string of singles showcasing their sleek, carbonated take on pop and R&B.  With a recent chart-smashing collaboration with fellow up-and-coming duo Disclosure under their belt, the stage couldn’t be more conveniently set for Aluna Francis and George Reid’s debut full-length, Body Music.

Depending on where you look, AlunaGeorge may either be portrayed as trailblazing futurists or nostalgia merchants.  In reality, the material on Body Music falls somewhere in between, sounding comfortably “now” with no small thanks to Reid’s savvy production.  His is an amalgamation of the Neptunes’ minimalist thump, the bubbling synth textures of the Brainfeeder and LuckyMe rosters, and the retro swing of 1990’s R&B.  The result is a technicolour instrumental foundation that’s almost always compelling but never obtrusive.  That’s important because while the duo stresses the importance of the collaborative process, they aren’t called GeorgeAluna, and Francis’ coy vocal stylings are very much the center of attention on Body Music. 

The album opens somewhat misleadingly with “Outlines,” a wistful song about struggling to hold onto memories of lovers past; it’s the duo’s most stripped back affair yet, all hushed synth chords, the gentle ping and pong of percussion, and Francis’ vulnerable vocal performance.  On an album where six particularly upbeat pieces of the 13-track puzzle (we’ll pretend their bonus cover of “This Is How We Do It” didn’t happen) have been out for some time,  the song works as a cleansing introduction.

Any concerns of Francis losing her fiery spirit are quickly dashed as the opener segues into “You Know You Like It, the song so good they made two videos out of it.  The deliciously chill hit has yet to lose an ounce of its sass since being released almost two years ago, and it proves to be a prime example of what makes Francis such an appealing frontwoman:  beneath the gentle coo of her voice is an intimidating sense of cool (you don’t become the most blogged UK artist of 2012 without being pretty cool) and confidence.  Indeed, Body Music is most successful with its teeth out, like on “Attracting Flies” or “Bad Idea,” equal parts revved up and fed up apiece.  Reid mellows things out on “Diver,” crafting an oceanic wave of sound for Francis to sing out on like a siren:  “I’ll go when I want to, don’t be surprised when I race you, cause I wait and I know that I’ll win.”  She doesn’t mess around.

It is telling that most of Body Music’s highlights come in the first half.  The pair try to keep the energy up further down the line on the garage-influenced “Lost & Found,” but wind up sounding a bit thin and formulaic.  The verses of “Best Be Believing” and the nauseatingly hokey “Superstar” seem to exist solely as buildups to the choruses, which sound disappointingly uninspired on arrival.  Fortunately, the duo are able to get it together for the final two songs.  The sexual tension is fittingly palpable on the woozy title track, the most carnal moment on an album that is surprisingly neutered given its title.  “Friends To Lovers” is the most outright R&B moment here, ending the journey on a note of romantic uncertainty similar to the way it starts; but where “Outlines” found Francis coping with fading memories of love, the closer finds her confronting romantic feelings cropping up where perhaps they shouldn’t.  That’s AlunaGeorge for you.  One foot in the past, one in the future.

As a debut album, Body Music is remarkably consistent.  There is the possibility that such consistency will be lost on people who have heard almost half the album already, such is the burden AlunaGeorge must bear as the critical darlings of 2013.   It would be a shame if that were the case, because you’d be hard pressed to find a better seven song stretch than what Body Music opens with.  Despite a few missteps, the album succeeds in delivering soulful pop with a distinctly modern sheen.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.