You lean back against spongy foam in the far corner of a large, muffled room. It’s vacant, but individuals of all shapes, sizes, and species begin filing in. They form a circle and face inward. They close their eyes simultaneously, and a few moments pass that you’d believe were hours had someone revealed it to you. Suddenly, instruments of all kinds, from many different worlds, materialize in their hands. Now it’s your turn to close your eyes, and listen . . .
Here it is, ladies and gentlemen; my new, definitive, favorite album of the year, so far! Portraits is the debut (!!!) full-length from Hertfordshire duo Maribou State. It’s a challenging feat to accurately encompass and pinpoint exactly what makes this record so wonderful, because these artists do so very many things so very right. These are two meticulously detailed individuals that utilize just about every tool at their disposal.
There’s no doubt that these guys kept the dance floor in mind during the creation of this smorgasbord of groove-filled songs. No matter how bizarre these productions get (and most are wonderfully, engrossingly bizarre), they always retain a tight sense of rhythm, and at least a couple prized melodies that are so catchy you’ll be humming them in your sleep. It’s eclectically funk, hip-hop, soul, and folk, all at the same damn time!
I could go on and on about the extraordinary sonic backdrops that these two blokes have created, but I feel compelled to dedicate some text to the marvelous performances by the featured vocalists. Pedestrian contributes sultry, heart-wrenching gold, Jono McCleery gives Sam Smith a run for his money, and Holly Walker steals the spotlight entirely. If you’re seeking eclectic, artfully-composed grooves, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)