London producer Kindness, aka Adam Bainbridge, has claimed that it would be “boring as hell, lazy and cowardly” if his second album, Otherness, simply repeated the tricks of his 2012 debut, World, You Need A Change of Mind.
Considering that particularly idiosyncratic record featured cover versions of both post-punk pioneers The Replacements’ “Swingin’ Party” and the theme tune to British soap opera Eastenders, it appears as though formulaic isn’t in Kindness’ vocabulary anyway.
Indeed, Otherness certainly has plenty of oddball moments that you wouldn’t expect to find with any other purveyor of 80s synth-funk. Fronted by Swedish siren Robyn, “Who Do You Love?” begins life as a hymnal number with its solemn church organs before a wave of disjointed beats turn the slightly funereal atmosphere into something a little more party-starting.
Name-checking both Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain,” “8th Wonder” starts out in similarly moody fashion before Ghanian rapper M.anifest livens up proceedings with his fast-paced bilingual flow. “For The Young,” meanwhile, even sees Bainbridge pick up the flamenco guitar, although the song’s attempt at 70s-style pastoral folk is perhaps one leftfield turn too many.
But it’s when Kindness’ instrument of choice, the saxophone, takes center stage that the late night soundtrack is at its most exquisite. The breathy R&B of “With You,” one of several tracks to feature the tones of dreadlocked chanteuse Kelela, is a bewitching blend of metallic bass, ghostly synths and smooth sax which sounds like it should be blaring out of an 80s wine bar.
“Why Don’t You Love Me?,” a collaboration with arguably his most obvious kindred spirit, Dev Hynes, also adds to the retro yuppie vibes, as does the washed out synths and melancholic piano chords of “This Is Not About Us.”
Otherness doesn’t quite hit the heights of Hynes’ similarly hipster-friendly Cupid Deluxe, but it’s a distinctive attempt to move away from Kindness’ disco days which is as sensual as it is peculiar.