Aluna Francis and George Reid of the British electro-pop group AlunaGeorge knows that their cotton candy pop melodies are your guilty pleasure. The duo’s 2011 breakout song “You Know You Like It” isn’t short on irony—or, perhaps, it’s merely coincidental. It finds Aluna teasing listeners with a sassy, sugar-doused hook that revels in the band’s allure: “You know you like it, but it drives you insane/You know you like it, but you’re scared of the shame,” she banters over Reid’s wonky bass thumps. And there’s no doubt about it: We like it. As much as I’d like to confine the track’s melody to singsong sessions solely in the shower or in front of the mirror, its catchy chorus makes that nearly impossible.
In a lot of ways, AlunaGeorge’s long-awaited debut Body Music is just that: a shamefully addictive bubble-gum pop high that’s too sweet to turn down. Previously released music like the two-year-old “You Know You Like It” and “Your Drums, Your Love” are among the certified hits that are reprised on the 13-track LP, but other tracks find the duo taking on a more lovelorn tone. On “Attracting Flies,” which was released in the spring, Aluna is seconds away from pulling the plug on another relationship that’s taking too much energy, and “Bad Idea” doubles as a teenage-penned break-up letter found in the hallway. But its punch lines aren’t tough enough to intimidate. “You’re a car crash waiting to happen,” she sings. “I’m putting on the brakes to save myself.”
The quick dipping “Lost And Found” and the squeaky, clap-rippling track “Just A Touch” add some new flavor to the mix as does the steamy follow-up “Body Music,” from which the album get its name. Disco meets R&B and electro-pop in “Kaleidoscope Love,” while “Diver” has Aluna reminding her beau who calls the shots against Reid’s short-circuited, string whipped tinkles. The record is defiantly infectious, but it’s often done without much effort.
With simplistic, unimaginative songwriting (“I want you to be yourself/I love it when I see you having fun”) and translucent harmonies and vocals, Body Music is at times a little too minimalistic and too safe. Songs like the na-na-na strewn “Best Be Believing” don’t display any particular ambition beyond mimicking ancient pop forms. Reid’s glossy, synth-buffed, glitchy dance beats seem to act as co-signers of the pair’s understated edge, but the group’s swagger comes into question on tracks like Aluna’s painfully bland take on Montell Jordan’s hard-hitting ‘90s club banger “This is How We Do It,” which regretfully shows up as a bonus track at the end of the album.
Body Music’s most mesmerizing fixes comes in the form of the album’s moderately slow and intimate opener and closer, which put Aluna’s warm vocals in a shimmering limelight that you never want dimmed. The opening track, “Outlines,” is a sleek piece of breezy leisure-pop, while the album’s final song, “Friends To Lovers,” is a sublime delight backed with saccharine, mousy vocals that prickles at the heart. It’s the records finest moment thanks to twinkling percussion and sparkly lyrics about being satisfied with could-bes instead of taking a chance. The album seems to grapple with a similar predicament. By the end, it’s clear that the 25-year-old bedroom-musicians-turned-UK-”it”-group have opted to do a few backstrokes in calm, familiar waters rather than take a dive. Their sound is more pop than R&B or electronic, more domestic than futuristic, and more formulaic than innovative. But it works for them. It’s accessible electro-pop music that you can’t help but be smitten with.