Mastering a sound that suits her well
Jordan Emery
11:20 22nd June 2020

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Jessie Ware burst on to the scene in 2012 with her RnB leaning electro dancefloor earning her critical acclaim and the interest of the musical tastemakers of the time. Her sound since then began to mutate, culminating in 2017’s Glasshouse; a more stately, emotional approach to mainstream pop. The subsequent tour left Ware drained, to the point that her mother told her to quit her mid-level pop stardom. 

Thankfully Ware did not listen to that advice and has come back with her best album to date, refining her earlier sound and gifting us with sexy and sultry disco that is begging to be heard on the dancefloor, and the bedroom. 

The steaminess of almost kisses and sexual tension over first dates permeate much of the album, constantly teetering on the edge of climax but rarely gifting it to us. Lead single ‘Adore You’ is brought to life with glistening synths and soft vocals but never lets go of it’s tension, keeping the bow taut throughout the song. ‘In Your Eyes’ utilises similar vocal stylings but brings the mid-tempo pulsing synths to new levels with luscious strings, that wouldn’t sound out of place on a James Bond soundtrack, continuing to tease the listener.

It’s not all teasing though and we are gifted with moments of musical power and experimentation. ‘Save A Kiss’, builds towards its satisfying drop, as throbbing electro washes over the song and strings hover over the top of it, allowing her voice to sound more commanding and urgent as she sings, “Just save a little bit of your lovin’ baby”. The title track allows for some experimentation as jarring sounds creep in over smooth 80s influenced synths, whilst ‘Soul Control’ seemingly employs an 8-bit hook to drive the song. 

‘Step Into My Life’ comes in the latter half and gives the listener a brief respite from the subdued moments of the album sounding like a cross between movie grandeur and 70s porn music, granting us a moment of camp and allowing Ware to show off her impressive soaring vocals. 

Not everything works on the album though as sometimes the pastiche of the 80s influence can sound forced. ‘Ooh La La’ gives us teasing come ons, “Open up the door, you know I like it, chivalry was dead but you revived it” but the twangs of bass and guitar throughout the verses sound tired and uninspiring after a while.

On this record it’s clear to see one vision realised though, it doesn’t jump across genres and influences like many pop albums do to avoid jading the listener or to avoid claims of the artist lacking ideas or creativity. It allows Ware to hone her craft and master a sound that suits her well. Final song ‘Remember Where You Are’ takes away from the fantasy and brings us back to the reality with the synths replaced by sweet strings and gentle chorals, as the singer bows out from one of the best pop albums of the year, singing, “Why don’t you take me home?”.

What’s Your Pleasure? is released on 26 June 2020 via PMR/VIRGIN EMI.

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