UK duo Aluna Francis and George Reid update the minimalistic, futuristic beats of early noughties producers Timbaland and The Neptunes on their fantastic debut. Slick, sinuous and sexy, it burbles over with the kind of exacting dance soul last heard from Aaliyah and even Destiny’s Child on their wilder rhythmical flights of fancy.
They can also be as warped as Scandinavian weird brains The Knife and with the likes of infectious and relentless You Know You Like It and their terrific collaboration with Disclosure on White Noise, they also know how to craft a sure-fire hit record.
Reid betrays his previous life as guitarist with math rockers Colour in the way his beats and oblique rhythms spin and then lock around the breathy glottal stops and drops of part-time model Aluna Francis’ divine voice. Your Drums seems to be made up of a series of strange oscillations and controlled wobbles, rapid fire drum and bass while You Know You Like It is just a relatively unadorned slow release of sheer joy.
It’s easy to get lost music as effortlessly celestial as this and while Francis’ child-like coo of a voice is sweet and seductive, she is no ethereal sprite. She’s got plenty to say – Bad Idea is as good a kiss-off as No Scrubs by TLC, surely an influence, while Attracting Flies would be the most peeved-off song of the year if it didn’t sound so damn gorgeous. The heads-down gallop of Lost and Found pings about madly with sped-up and slowed-down vocals and rushes of digitalism. It must be the catchiest and cleverest song of the year.
Maybe Body Music is too front-loaded with the good stuff and the proven hits, leaving the second half rather limp in comparison. The exacting funk and nervy beats tend to drift off into keyboard washes and rambling nu-soul blandishments.
Best Believing is very good but it lacks the insouciance of the zippy, ice-cool run of those opening tracks - it almost sounds, well, conventional. Superstar and Just a Touch may not stand out either and closing the album with a faithful cover of Montell Jordan’s This is How We Do It may even take the edge off what is a fresh and exciting debut.
No matter because AlunaGeorge deserve everything coming their way for subverting pop and giving it some actual substance. Body Music is altogether strange and altogether beautiful.