The duo of AlunaGeorge consists of Aluna Francis' vocals and George Reid handling production. The two can be seen on the cover art for the album.
It was Sasquatch Music Festival 2015 when we had left midway through the Of Monsters and Men show to dash into the 'El Chupecabra tent', an edm-centric stage, and catch the end of the AlunaGeorge set. Luckily we scurried into the crowd in time to catch AlunaGeorge perform their first hit song, 'You Know You Like It', A song that was originally released in 2012, but then remixed by DJ Snake in 2013 which was successful for a couple of years. This "sleeper hit" would only serve to preface what would come in 'I Remember'.
AlunaGeorge's sound isn't too far from off from some of the synthpop music that is abundantly played on any given top 40 radio station. With a sound that can be fairly described as something between Ellie Goulding and Rihanna, AlunaGeorge brings an album that feels consistently more upbeat than a lot of the competition as well as her own debut album, 'Body Music'.
'I Remember' actually has a bit of history leading to it's release. There were five singles that were dropped between January and when the the album album came out in September, almost double the amount of singles AlunaGeorge had released prior. Among these singles was dancehall inspired song 'I'm In Control', which had an appropriate feature in Popcaan. The title track 'I Remember', features edm artist Flume's production, and then the r&b-like 'Mediator', which ended up being one of our favorites, all of which happen to be some of the slower tracks from this album.
Though there were five singles, this album ended up being 12 tracks long, which provided some new content, including the first song, 'Full Swing'. This song actually previews a lot of the elements that would be present in the album. The chipmunk-like voices are only a small part of the vocal manipulation that would happen and this wouldn't be the first song with a poppy, uplifting chorus either. A similar feel would be portrayed just a few songs later in 'Not Above Love' and 'Hold Your Head High'. Pell, who featured on the first song is decent enough, but much like a lot of the vocal features that will appear, he doesn't hold a light to Aluna's voice.
Aluna's sugar-sweet voice is only complimented by the deep and dark production that shows itself a few times on this album. 'My Blood' is actually the one song that George doesn't play a part in production-wise, as that duty was done by Zhu, who did an excellent job underlying the vocals with his dark instrumental as well as a much deeper copy of Aluna's voice, an element that the duo works with at will. This song also has a pretty heavy ending, another thing that becomes semi-common within their work.
Another track where Aluna's almost child-like voice is contrasted with a much deeper version of it is on 'Hold Your Head High', which was one song that felt a little too formulaic but wasn't without it's catchy pop dance break. 'Mean What I Mean' on the other hand works within the formula much better and supplies some great and righteous lyrics. 'Jealous', another song that follows a similar formula, was less impactful but made a great point showing that these types of instrumentals don't need any sort of build up or extra attention, and instead features Aluna's vocals over the entire track, no matter how groovy the music may be getting.
Aluna's performance may be a big, shining highlight of this album, but the production by George Reid is equally deserving of credit. 'Not Above Love' has really nice horns playing along with Aluna's empowering message, and on 'In My Head', they do fantastic their only self-written song on the whole project with some really dark production, creating a groove while darting synths bounce over the pelting drums, only before the string instrumental builds into a violent and banger ending.
A couple of the sexier tracks on this album include previously mentioned singles 'Mediator' and title track 'I Remember', which has a disorienting and glitchy hook that feels like a direct result of Flume's collaboration on the song. A similar effect takes over the hook on 'Wanderlust', but softer production and short filler verses make for a less effective attempt. One song that takes a bit of a different approach is 'Heartbreak Horizon'. The production on this song starts off feeling very appropriate for the name of the song, coming with retro synths and a horn that felt a little goofy, but ended up leading to a unexpectedly catchy hook.
'I Remember' is close to perfecting the formula
AlunaGeorge gets a lot of things right on this new album and made big progress in terms of bringing a consistent and desirable sound. We think 'I Remember' is a great project for what it set out to be and supplied several serious contenders for hit songs. Only time will tell what remixes and endorsements will push this music into the mainstream, but for the time being it's a refreshing set of music for us at Keakie.
Enjoy 'I Remember' for yourself below.