If Timbaland would stop wasting his production talents on AutoTuned dance-pop and get back to the slinky futuristic R&B he perfected with Aaliyah, it’s pretty likely that the result wouldn’t be that far removed from the sound of AlunaGeorge.
Emerging from the same burgeoning pitch-shifted electro-soul scene as the likes of Purity Ring and Holy Other, the London-based duo are widely regarded as the act most likely to break through to the mainstream, largely thanks to the presence of Aluna Francis, a half-Indian, half-Jamaican former art student whose slinky feline vocals hark back to the late 90s heyday of All Saints’ Shaznay Lewis and Sneaker Pimps’ Kelli Ali.
Originally a member of experimental electronic collective My Toys Like Me, Francis hooked up with George Reid, formerly the guitarist in math-rock outfit Colour, after he remixed one of the group’s tracks, “Sweetheart.” Sharing a love of old-school R&B, Radiohead and the sparse hip-hop of The Neptunes, the pair began crafting their seductive glitchy sound in 2010, eventually landing a support slot with Cocknbullkid, a performance at the Isle of Wight Festival and appearances on the soundtracks for both the UK and US version of Skins.
From the title track’s bewitching fusion of elasticated bass-lines, ghostly vocal loops and sugary sweet melodies, to the lo-fi melancholic dub-pop of “Put Up Your Hands,” if AlunaGeorge can fulfil the potential of their recent You Know You Like It E.P., their as-yet-untitled debut, scheduled for release in early 2013, could be one of the most exciting records to emerge from London’s current underground.
Unafraid to play around with silence, the twinkling electro of early track “Watching Over You” is so minimalistic that there’s hardly anything there; likewise with the chopped-up post-garage of “We Are Chosen.” But the duo are also capable of producing the odd massive hook too, whether it’s the gorgeous aquatic future-pop of “Your Drums, Your Love” or the warped house of “Analyser.” Meanwhile, “After Light,” Francis’ recent collaboration with maximalistic maestro Rustie, proves her kittenish vocals are also capable of withstanding more bass-heavy fare.
With the likes of Cassie, Ciara and Ashanti currently missing in action, AlunaGeorge are fast positioning themselves as Aaliyah’s natural successors.