Beyond the concept, the really outstanding thing about this debut album from duo AlunaGeorge is the songs. The three that make up this digital debut - available on vinyl from the 11th June with remixes, so be patient– are magnificent, like sugar that dissolves gently inside your ear, perfectly sung and produced. After all, this is what R&B is all about; guileless vocal lines and memorable melodies, futuristic beats that give an erotic feeling above all else. Aluna Francis and George Reid’s songs have that: they are sexy, they’re catchy, truly memorable - especially the first, the EP’s title song, “You Know You Like It”. They also have the freshness of coming from the depths of indie, without the support of a big studio or record company, from the street to the iPod of thousands of teenagers. Maybe that’s why –like The Weeknd was last year– they are a true sample of honest R&B, without any marketing campaigns behind them. Aluna sings with a voice that we have recognised before in both suspicious (Jamelia, for example) and legendary artists –Aaliyah is, logically, her biggest influence. Furthermore, George knows how to produce the perfect beats for this alliance: crackly, minimal, with rickety videogame melodies like the ones we’d hear on an instrumental piece by Hudson Mohawke, with the bass turned up. They’re addictive.
Talking about their originality, however, is a different story. Whatever the word might be around, AlunaGeorge’s stuff doesn’t create any kind of conceptual shock. It’s not earth-shattering for the genre: the lines connecting the electronic underground and mainstream R&B in England can be traced back to the 90s, to Leila or even Massive Attack. One has to recognise, though, AlunaGeorge’s potential to reach radios and become a popular project, attracting thousands of people. Here is where we should let everything shown in “Just A Touch” (even catchier than “You Know You Like It”) and “Put Up Your Hands” (a solid ending for this trio of hits) - alongside their unofficial remix for Lana del Rey - mature in peace. We should let the couple take their time bringing out more songs, because their strong point is making modern songs that you can fall in love with at first listen.
Kudos also goes to Tri Angle, for confirming itself as the best label for digging up promising newcomers in the underground on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, for placing its bets on pure, unadorned R&B, after suggesting it as a key influence in the EPs of Balam Acab, oOoOO and Holy Other.