Three years since Aluna Francis and George Reid co-produced their debut album Body Talk, and much like a lot of The Next Hot Thing, everything was dependent on that follow-up step. It kicked off fantastically with the first single ‘I’m In Control’, recruiting Popcaan for an electro-moombathon face-off that is just as catchy now as it was when it dropped back in January.
A quick look at who else they’ve recruited as cohorts for their sophomore outing only upped the anticipation, with Charli XCX, Flume, Cathy Dennis, Tom Aspaul and Rock Mafia all hopping on board tracks as co-writers and producers, but this very mixed-bag doesn’t help dispel the vague disappointment come the album’s end, only sporadically broken by some perfectly configured highlights.
Opening track ‘Full Swing’ gets some top marks for being a barely-hidden ode to orgasms which seems to borrow from John Carpenter’s Halloween theme once we reach the track’s, uhm, climax. ‘In My Head’ sounds like something Basement Jaxx would release if they woke up feeling a little dark and sexy. The collaboration with Flume brings out the best in them both, as ‘I Remember’ drops the subtly heartbreaking line over the chorus: “I remember your scent / when I just woke up / and I’m on your chest” – the track has you dancing and vibe-ing out before you’ve even clocked that you’re supposed to be feeling sad.
Too often though, there are tracks that just don’t sound like they’re particularly trying all that hard to make an impression. Aluna’s lovely, layered vocals and George’s crisp, clean production on the likes of ‘My Blood’ or ‘Mediator’ don’t elevate them beyond mostly forgettable, and other tracks have some greats bits, without adding up to the sum of their parts: ‘Heartbreak Horizon’ goes full Kylie-pop on the storming chorus, but is kind of a mess otherwise, ‘Mean What I Mean’ has a very cutting-edge sound that only gets more and more watered down the more Aluna sings over it, and ‘Jealous’ would be more fun if it didn’t sound like it was almost custom made to appear on a BooHoo.Com advert.
Having appeared on tracks for Disclosure, Kaytranda, Skrillex and Diplo in the three years since first exploding on to the scene, I Remember never raises the bar to the level of the work they’ve provided elsewhere for other artists. Perfectly serviceable, sure, but there’s no room for that in modern pop music. Not if you still want to be remembered in another three years from now.