The lazy ‘folktronica’ moniker has been slapped on a number of poor unfortunates over the years, but no one seems more associated with it than Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet. As dance music came of age, in some senses, in the mid-to-late Noughties, it seems apt that Hebden’s fifth studio album is one of the first important electronic releases of our new-born decade.
As one of the early exponents of the genre mashing that became a part of the musical vernacular, (and to some godforsaken teens, the only way that dance music currently exists as a niche) Hebden has become entrenched in the annals of independent music as a prophet, oft namedropped but always under-appreciated. With There Is Love In You, he seems only too happy to consolidate his rep as a sickeningly gifted individual who’s still leaving most of his ilk in the shade.
Sliding from the disjointed female vocal and delicate chiming of ‘Angel Echoes’ to the epic, brooding ‘Love Cry’ with its Krautrock tendencies and robot noise seems almost inevitable. The latter in particular is a driving tour-de-force and life-affirming in its build up and finish. The work Hebden’s done with drumming legend Steve Reid has more than slightly rubbed off, at least according to the astonishing percussive build up here.
‘Circling’ does exactly what it says on the tin, building up to a glittery finale from a folksy beginning, and ‘Sing’ is hopelessly moreish with a ‘Windowlicker’-indebted warped female vocal its crowning glory. ‘Plastic People’ slinks and claps its way through to ‘She Just Likes To Fight’, where the very deliberate thread of barely-concealed emotion bubbling underneath the surface of There Is Love In You reveals itself in a warm fireside singalong.
Hebden’s power seems to lie in stringing the listener along as he coaxes us through myriad genres and sounds, never isolating or alienating. And just as soon as you’re pushed to the limit, you’re invited back into the fold as a family member and compatriot. And, worryingly for some, the best is definitely yet to come from Four Tet.