The assurance present in I Remember practically begs you to ask if AlunaGeorge ever even heard of the term “sophomore slump.” In 2016, vocalist Aluna Francis and beat-maker George Reid find themselves in a market saturated with styles they progressed, with acts like Lion Babe, Flume, and Nao emerging to add emotive depth to electronic music. Interestingly enough, the growth seen on I Remember seems to also draw from the acts AlunaGeorge undoubtedly influenced, particularly the electronic wobble present in Flume’s music.
Built upon the foundations set by their debut, the ambient and subtle Body Music, I Remember intensifies these elements, and thus lands with more assurance and power. Neither Francis nor Reid entirely forget their UK-garage roots, evidenced on the superbly sinister “In My Head”, but this sound takes a backseat to the more popular trends of today. Reid’s pounding bass-lines and trumpeting horns reflect the current shift towards dancehall being promoted by Major Lazer and Drake. Additional hip-hop elements and an MC-heavy guest-list further the dance mission of I Remember, which is to get you out of your body and into the groove.
The duo’s most beguiling instrument remains Francis herself, whose wispy, English-tinted voice shifts from beguiling to bellicose with each verse. No matter how turbulent Reid’s production becomes, Francis’ voice shines as a guide through rolling tides of synths and drops. Upon what sounds like fanfares of elephants, she proclaims her word as law in tracks “Mean What I Mean” and “Heartbreak Horizon”, the latter of which boldly pushes AlunaGeorge’s sound into the dance-pop territory of Chairlift.
Where Francis both soars and struggles is in her lyricisms, either coming across as shrewdly clever or frustratingly unclear. The mechanical imagery of the intro, “Full Swing”, works wonders as she coyly announces she’s “pushing up her bit-rate.” Conversely, the very danceable “Jealous” in the end suffers from a lack of clarity: here, Francis is, for some reason, angry that you’re not jealous, a strange accusation that never feels fully explained.
The closer, “Wanderlust” provides a layered sendoff to a record that grows in complexity the further you go into it. Here, AlunaGeorge shrug off closure to instead instigate celebration and anticipation for the band’s past and future evolutions, respectively. Though a mainstream influence definitely feels present here (“I’m in Control” is basically a dancehall revamp of Bieber’s “Sorry”), I Remember channels this influence through the kaleidoscope lens of AlunaGeorge for a widely varied and ultimately satisfying record. B