AlunaGeorge’s second album doesn’t truly take off until 14 minutes in, when the head-jerking, rhythmic slides of ‘Mean What I Mean’ reach your ears. I Remember is a break-up-and-put-yourself-back-together album. But, objectively, it’s hard to recommend this outpouring of mixed emotions and strained sounds over the electro-pop duo’s phenomenal debut, Body Music, whether you’re nursing a broken heart or well on the rebound.
Aluna Francis and George Reid exhibited a symbiotic partnership in making Body Music: the sounds were invitingly strange, the lyrics playful and vivid. By contrast, I Remember is a lockbox of mismatched feelings, muddy productions (‘My Blood’) and glib lyrics (“You keep robbing my heart like a bank / No thank you / No thank you”).
The intent is often there, but Francis’s words and George’s productions often misalign with one another. So the opening four tracks of empowerment and self-respect are endured more than enjoyed. The clattering ‘Heartbreak Horizon’ comes apart before it’s halfway through, and feels poorly placed as the album’s penultimate track. And the title track, which swims in the direction of ‘Best Be Believing’ or Tinashe’s ‘Pretend’ in sentiment, but never reaches those heights, isn’t helped by a jarring transition from ‘I’m in Control (feat. Popcaan)’.
Still, when singer and producer rekindle their symbiosis we do get the danceable delights that they have become known for. The aforementioned ‘Mean What I Mean’, with rappers Leikeli47 and Dreezy, is the fiery retort of a lover scorned. ‘In My Head’ stalks you, threateningly, with its stealthy, synthetic dabs. And the alluring ‘Mediator’ opens your mind to a Francis embodying the classical seductiveness of a Shangri-La star.
It’s a shame that these highs are let down by one too many mundane songs. AlunaGeorge are capable of so much more than this: Reid’s additive productions and Francis’s stream of feisty verses are not to be found here. At the end of the record, it’s the absence of this cooperative energy that you remember most.
I Remember is out now on Island Records.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @aarnlee.
Image: Island Records/PR