Lion Babe provide remedy for post-Christmas blues with Begin

BeginAt this point in the year, it may feel like you’re dragging around post-Christmas blues in the form of an obelisk with the word January embedded throughout like the saddest stick of rock you can imagine. Regardless of what you’re currently telling yourself, there is still hope. A hope in the shape of February that, from other angles, also looks vaguely like New York. Further still, through squinted eyes, you can see a man and a woman. This is Lion Babe, and that thing in their hands is their album, Begin, a title that must be quite cathartic for the duo, considering the journey they’ve had up to this point. Finally, a beginning, and finally, something to lift your spirits.

Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman look like an unlikely pairing, but it’s this meeting of different styles that creates so vivid and electrifying a project. Begin opens with the enchanting, "Whole". The track succinctly establishes the sound palette Goodman plays with, and on which Hervey’s vocals sit atop as though they’re being gradually drizzled like chocolate, in slow motion off a spoon held aloft, from that one advert. In the same way the chocolatier controls the swirl of chocolate, Goodman’s beats manipulate Hervey’s voice with the utmost precision. There are clear parallels here between Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, the rich, low end tones being the lifeblood of the record.

An empowering, uplifting message is carried throughout, reflecting the album title, the tracks represent the beginning of life, the beginning of an endless high. Neo soul is seamlessly blended with hip hop, pop and dance elements. On "Jump HI", they are clearly comfortable accommodating Childish Gambino’s style, as they are on the more subdued and gorgeous, "Treat Me Like Fire". This is where their broad range of influences shine through most prominently. Goodman cites the likes of J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Timbaland as constant inspirations for his production efforts, and their styles truly amalgamate here into something of Goodman’s own creation.

Hervey is a force of nature from track to track, the outfit’s name being highly appropriate for her overall approach. Her diversity is best expressed between the mesmerising, "Wonder Woman", and slow jam closer, "Little Dreamer", bouncing from Tina Turner like sass to smooth and gentle Marvin Gaye style vocals.

This is intelligent pop music, in part influenced by great production credits, such as Pharrell Williams and Dave Sitek, although, ultimately, it’s Lion Babe’s authenticity that makes each element of Begin so cohesive and vibrant. In terms of finding a place to begin, they couldn’t be in a better place, and, as Little Dreamer leads off, you are washed in a feeling of sheer accomplishment.

Release: 12th February 2016, Polydor


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