there’s so much fully-formed though still purposefully rudimentary, retrospective yet pseudo-futuristic r’n'b buzzing about contemporarily that is, more often than not, inconceivably sordid to the ear. indeed, there’s enough of the stuff to fill a smutty, blue-lit californian strip joint which, given its nonphysical properties, speaks volumes of its exponentially increased ubiquity. it’s a call the long since lambasted witch house sub genre should still have to answer for I should think (heck – it’s already been blamed for so much ill that another minor gripe oughtn’t further deteriorate its now deservedly terminal bill of health) though we are ourselves commensurately culpable, as we helplessly indulge abel tesfaye and tykes likewise.
though would the weekend sound as it does were it not for the incontrovertible effect of the www. and the headless phenomena it incurs? trapped in the closet, etc.? most likely not, nope. however, to that same extent if to a converse effect, would the place have been afforded ample room into which it could grow later on last year, were the intangible kingdom that is the internet not in existence? again, it most probably wouldn’t.
though the first of many facets to set brothers andrew and daniel aged apart even from this, the very first of the eleven to compose their début inc. full-length no world, is their immaculate attention to detail – one which at once feels organic, and moreover of a point in time at which the online realm held a lesser relevance. having backed, recorded, and toured with all and sundry from 50 cent to cee lo green; elton john to pharrell, that’s not an altogether remarkable trait and so too musically, the place is something of an albeit scintillatingly nostalgic retread of some of currently popular r’n'b’s most celebrated tropes – from the white-rap croons à la how to dress well’s tom krell, to the smouldering and concentratedly subdued overall ambience which is overtly akin to tesfaye’s very own high for this. “i feel like we’ve been here before”, andrew even coos in a mutedly layered vocal redolent of timberlake in his justified prime. though whereas many of their contemporaries may opt to build upon the winsome aesthetic already established, the brothers aged embellish with further intricacy: noodling guitar solos, which niftily snake their way around teasing drum machine cadences. and then there’s the small, though no less significant matter of the production – perhaps daniel’s most pertinent contribution. immaculate as a ronson dj spin, although it remains quite elementary for the most part you’d be hard pushed to happen upon a record this well slotted together again any time soon.
for no world is full of that almost telepathic sense of cohesion, and perfunctory comprehension only kindled between same-sex siblings: the ebbing minimalism of angel, or the sultry (if sporadically gloopy) majesty of trust (hell below) both attest to this. “don’t ask me if you’ll ever be enough/ well, i’ll tell you the truth but i’m hard to trust” andrew sulks, a distracted nonchalance pervading his scuffed vocal on the latter as it sits pretty atop jazzy inflections, and the sort of borderline mortifying soul schmaltz for which prince was once renowned. but they’re comfortably enough for one another – the perfect fit. and the claustrophobic shimmering of black wings isn’t far short of the paragon of woebegone 21st century soul. 5 days, meanwhile, is as though the exotic sounds of the rainforest relocated to the agitated endlessness of any which concrete jungle, as flittering beats camouflage themselves in the humid warmth of yet another impeccable vocal delivery.
lyrically, it’s the usual blend of chart rhetoric and pained (read: painful) balladeer baloney though musically, the brotherly synergy again comes into play, and never is this more accomplished than on desert rose (war prayer). akin to the breathlessness of the xx’ eponymous reproduced by floating points and sprinkled with some extra r. kelly for added impact, this is arguably the one defining factor of a supremely impressive début collection, in that where others usually rely upon faceless session musicians and nameless acquaintances, aged and aged created this with their own four hands and their one more or less homologous set of chromosomes. and that renders no world an immoderately more inviting proposal. as such, could any one of their contemporaries come out with, say, the sweeping grandeur of the all too succinct instrumental outro nariah’s song, to rerun the rhetoric of before? for one final time, i think not.
Released: February 18th, 2013 [4AD]