Album Reviews

Javelin – No Más

(Luaka Bop) UK release date: 10 May 2010

The last thing we need right now is another faceless dance duo. Unfortunately that’s what Brooklyn cousins Javelin represent. But luckily, the pair seem to suffer from an acute case of musical ADHD and their full-length debut covers everything from forward-thinking electro to nostalgic, retro-soul workouts to straight up pop hits in waiting.

Having toured with the likes of Mos Def and Yeasayer, it’s clear that Javelin have yet to settle on a musical genre they like best. Though this leads to No Más sounding like an iPod on shuffle, it’s clear that these guys do at least have good taste. Opener and early single Vibrationz is a brilliant slice of low-slung electro-funk, full of handclaps, snatched vocal samples and a breeziness that feels completely natural. Oh! Centra, meanwhile, sounds like a love song between two badly voiced robots from a 1970s sci-fi movie which, despite the description, is a pretty fun listen.

Better still are On It On It and Moscow 1980, which both fuse the chilly electronics of 1980s pop with the warm melodic heart of bands like Hot Chip and Passion Pit. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the direction the album’s going in, however, the whole thing shifts and suddenly we’re in Mark Ronson territory and there are horn blasts aplenty. Shadow Heart piles soul claps, booming drums and, yes, plenty of horns on top of each other to create a retro soul sound with an eye to the future, whilst Tell Me What Will It Be? could be the theme tune to a long lost Blacksploitation film.

As much as you want to praise the pair for trying out as many things as possible, there’s the sense that the cohesion of the album has been lost amongst the jukebox approach to track listing. In fact, No Más would probably make for a highly entertaining DJ set – tracks like C Town would sound amazing at full blast – but as an album to sit and enjoy, it can prove frustrating.

Apparently, No Más is completely sample free, with every sound painstakingly worked on to make it sound like it came from an old sample. It’s this kind of logic that makes No Más an oddly compelling listen, in the sense that you’re never quite sure whether what you’re hearing is amazing or awful. They may be a faceless dance duo but thankfully their music more than makes up for it.

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More on Javelin
Javelin – Hi Beams
Javelin – No Más