AlunaGeorge’s association with TriAngle Records might at first seem misleading, as they’re really not what you would expect from the label known for unearthing talents like Balam Acab, oOoOO and How to Dress Well. All of those artists were trendsetters in what most people have now wisely decided to stop calling “witchhouse”, a haunting spectre of R’n’B distorted almost beyond recognition. Whilst this debut EP from British duo George Reid and Aluna Francis is at times equally spellbinding it is far more nostalgic than it is phantasmic, with an instantly familiar tone.
Those other acts seem to reach beyond the past, into another realm of music almost, albeit an impressively warm yet disturbing one. Whereas there’s no doubting that You Know How You Like It has one foot very firmly set in the world of slick late ’90s/early ’00s pop R’n’B, managing to re-invigorate the sound and make it feel fresh without resorting to any of those creepy filters.
This isn’t to say that the duo lack experimental genes, in fact Reid’s production is full of weird little flourishes; sparse beat aside it’s really those minimal glitches and flutters which drive the title track, along with Francis’ vocals which are disarmingly placid whilst still spitting an undertone of provocative attitude, with the refrain “You know you like it but you’re scared of the shame”. With such a skeletal base it’s surprisingly how insanely catchy the song is: a proper earworm pop gem.
The remaining two tracks aren’t filler as such but definitely don’t measure up to the title track. ‘Just a Touch’ is the weakest link, as it tries to re-capture the capricious nature of the opener the vocal hooks are weighed down by a barrage of slinky snyth effects. ‘Put Up Your Hands’ is a far more rounded affair than the other two as it skulks between downbeat seductive verses and a vivacious chorus, showing both the range in Francis’ vocal abilities and the potential for stylistic range from the duo.
The most striking thing about AlunaGeorge’s take on this R’n’B sound though is how stripped of ego and sexuality it is. These songs aren’t about getting it on in the club, or knowing how sexy you are, or being on a boat. They play out in terms more easy to relate to, whether it be pitying the bundles of unread e-mails from an obsessive ex partner or hesitant affirmations of personal strength – and this makes AlunaGeorge considerably more likeable than any number of the other revivalists.
At just three tracks this release is hardly a comprehensive overview of the duo, but the subtle crafting of these songs do give the impression that future works are likely to see them explore slightly different approaches, and if they can expand just that little bit then their forthcoming album is certainly one worth looking forward to.
Originally published by The Line of Best Fit