Album Reviews

Georgia – Euphoric

(Domino) UK release date: 28 July 2023

Punchy, playful and exhilarating, sonic flair lifts infectious dance-pop tunes on the follow-up to 2020’s Mercury-nominated Seeking Thrills

Georgia - Euphoric Singer-songwriter, producer and drummer Georgia Barnes may have received attention for her 2020 record Seeking Thrills, even chalking up a Mercury Prize nomination, but something was also lost from her eponymous inventive 2015 debut. Lots of sleek, shiny pop songs waiting for house remixes to add more punch, perhaps even a little faceless at points?

This is to say that Euphoric, an album-long collaboration with producer Rostam, fleshes out this more mainstream approach and improves on it. Several tracks dive straight into club culture, while others utilise live instrumentation to create a groove-based sound that borders on post-punk.

If one is looking for the titular euphoria, look no further than Some Things You’ll Never Know. Que Sera Sera is updated for the 2020s as Georgia ponders the future of a relationship (“I want to know what you think about us / I want to know if our future’s star-crossed / You say ‘some things you’ll never know’”) over chunky 4×4 beats and piano stabs that ring out like flashing lights. If that weren’t enough, a sidling bassline is deployed as part of a killer middle eight – there’s not enough of them these days.

Indeed, many of these tracks stretch longer than is common in modern pop, though this isn’t always to the record’s benefit. Keep On was perfectly fine, something of a palette-cleanser with its downtempo drums and acoustic piano, before an unnecessary final section made it one of the longest songs and the weakest. However, Mountain Song delivers the goods as gnarly synth bass accompanies lively arpeggiated bloops, its ambitious structure creating some great dynamic moments as Georgia’s vocals soar over the top.

The pop perfection she searched for a few years ago is achieved on Alive, an ode to taking the leap of faith (“Takes courage just to try / Everything once or twice / There’s nothing on the line / Except what we’d miss if we didn’t try”). Eagle-eared listeners can also spot a couple of throwbacks to classic tunes: the growling bass on The Dream is reminiscent of Basement Jaxx’s Where’s Your Head At, the frantic breakbeats on Friends Will Never Let You Go are a dead ringer for The Prodigy’s Firestarter, while Give It Up For Love combines the good vibes of several vintage Primal Scream tracks in an irresistible blend. Punchy, playful and exhilarating, with Euphoric Georgia has regained her artistic verve.

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