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Synth-R&B Duo Inc Travel Back To 80s on “No World” (Album Review)

4AD (2013)

Previously session musicians for the likes of Pharrell Williams, 50 Cent and Raphael Saadiq, Los Angeles brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged now attempt to step out of the shadows of their illustrious urban peers with a first full-length album under their Inc moniker, No World.

Thankfully the boorish machismo of Mr. Curtis Jackson hasn’t rubbed off on them at all, although there are shades of the N.E.R.D. frontman’s production style with the sparse futuristic beats on “5 Days” and the Tony! Toni! Tone founder’s elegant neo-soul on slow jams “Your Tears” and “Desert Rose (War Prayer).”

But apart from “Lifetime,” whose staccato funk beats recall the late 90s/early 00s hit-making formula of Rodney Jerkins, No World is very much a post-modern take on the gossamer synth-R&B of the 80s.

Indeed, despite signing to the 4AD label renowned for its warped take on the genre, there’s little in the way of weirdness here, save for the out of place New Age instrumental, “Nariah’s Song,” which is little more than a short burst of elevator music.

Instead, the siblings deploy an array of gleaming synths, minimal finger-clicks and languid bass-lines to produce a sensual and sultry affair which at various points recall Prince’s Purple Rain era, the blue-eyed soul of Scritti Politti and the smooth after-hours New Jack Swing of Johnny Gill.

A convincing pastiche to the decade it may be, but like Andrew’s softly spoken but utterly detached sweet nothings, the melodies are so lightweight that you really have to pay attention to notice that they’re there at all, meaning the majority of the album’s eleven tracks float on by in one giant vapid haze.

The likes of “Black Wings” and “The Place” would be perfectly enjoyable were they to appear separately on an 80s compilation. But on the whole, for a band who are used to performing for such multi-dimensional artists, No World is disappointingly flat.

2.5 / 5 stars     

About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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