What is the model for pop music in 2014? It’s electronic, it’s beat driven and its memorable vocal iterations qrounded by catchy melodies, are simple and direct in communicating with its audience. From the radio to the dance floor, artists like David Guetta and Afrojack have been exploiting this model extensively as their fetish pursuits call on only its most basic principles. It is however the indie dance label that’s been able to accommodate this model most effectively as artists like FKA Twigs and Julio Bashmore have all adapted its framework to achieve only the most innovative results. One of the labels that have been frantically working around this approach has been Numbers, and their artists, Dead Boy and Sophie, have already extensively shared their interpretation of this model with the world. Sophie’s last 12” Hard/Lemonade was an excellent example of consumerist music for the age of the Internet as it flits somewhere between a grime track and j-pop territory with a catchy female-esque vocal hook interjecting jagged beats and saw-tooth synths. Somewhere, between those erratic beats of Sophie and the effervescent productions of Dead Boy, we find Redinho and his latest self-titled offering, coming by way of the Scottish label, will be the closest they’ve gotten to a release that will make their cross-over into the popular consciousness complete.
“It’s time to get stupid”: Only two tracks in and these lyrics ring truer than ever. Jacuzzi sets the tone for an album that is relentless in its pursuit of a good time. The vocoder heavy track, which fuses funk with hip-hop, is instantaneously gratifying as the vocal-led arrangement is dusted in a host of major-led motifs around a big shuffling beat. I imagine Redinho channelling Daft Punk through current day Snoop Dogg to arrive at Jacuzzi and it is particularly this type of cross-pollination of distinctive influences that make the album so endearing. This predilection is pedalled all the way through Redhino with the best examples coming by way of Get you off my Mind and Making up the Rules, but they also go to reveal a producer that is particularly attuned to good pop compositional techniques. The latter song, which sounds like Stevie Wonder covered by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur, features a rich variety of melodies and incredibly adventurous harmonies, that constantly find new keys to move in to. It keeps the listener on his/her toes without getting too experimental. The ever-present vocoder is still there, but on this occasion it is relegated to background as Vula’s vocal recites a jazzy lament on the future of an unknown relationship. It is unfortunately also the only time on the album the lyrics offer a point of deeper reflection and not just an endless source of repetition.
On Going Nowhere, this is particularly tedious around the eighth repeat of the same verse, and reveals a weakness that is not characteristic of the rest of the track as it moves along a plethora of development through various harmonic movements. The album redeems itself on these compositional aspects of Redinho’s work and, alongside the excellent production value, completely nails the album format. There are even a few excellent album-tracks that are hidden amongst the hit makers that make up most of Redinho. Say I want You is one such track and the short minor-focussed jaunt is built from a simple dub bass-line, peppered with some high frequency percussive parts and very subtle synths. It fortifies the album’s own storyline and suggests a level of experimentation that is on par with the likes Sophie’s mind-warping exploits.
Alongside Stay together it rounds off an album that manages to capture the concept of a Pop album perfectly in 2014. Even though the lyrical investment does tend to let it down at those times when they make up the central theme, the overall arrangement completely overshadows any negative connotation immediately. The sounds predominantly work around trap and electro with elements of funk and even trance thrown in to the mixing pot. Any genre-devoted journalist (or beatport) might have some trouble in appropriating the right pigeonhole for this album, and it speaks volumes of our current predilection to trend-simplifying descriptions of music. I believe FKA Twigs has already proved that electronic music born out of marginal corners can clearly be adopted into the annals of the pop mainstream to-day, and although Redinho is the happy-go-lucky contrast to Twigs’ melancholy solemnity, he has still managed to strengthen this accord through Redinho.