2013 saw AlunaGeorge go from strength to strength, so luckily for us the Earth wasn’t consumed in a colossal fuck-you fireball.
AlunaGeorge is a duo hailing from London, consisting of vocalist Aluna Francis and producer and instrumentalist George Reid. It’s still unknown where they got their name from. Aluna originally performed with the curiously-titled Earth Leakage Trip before forming indie band The Boundary. In 2005, she co-created electronic group My Toys Like Me, who went on to support artists such as Brazilian indie rock outfit CSS, as well as electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin. George was a guitarist in math rock band Colour. The pair first met in June 2009 when George approached Aluna about remixing the My Toys Like Me track, ‘Sweetheart’, and so, in somewhat of a dick move (for the group, not for us), Francis left the band an album-and-a-half in and the rest is history.
AlunaGeorge’s first release came in 2011 with double single ‘Analyser’/‘We Are Chosen’. The former is a bright and infectious slice of pop, complete with pulsing synths and distorted vocals; Aluna’s almost-childlike singing matches the song’s sound perfectly. The latter is a darker affair with arrhythmic drums and synths that stab and drop – at times, it’s reminiscent of early Hot Chip. Still very much a fledgling on the music scene and with little promotion, the tracks failed to create much of an impact but it counted as the duo stepping onto the first rung of the ladder.
Their breakthrough arrived in April 2012 with the release of the excellent single ‘You Know You Like It’, which was soon followed by an EP of the same name. The song is an irresistible blend of R&B, garage and synthpop and was championed by DJs such as MistaJam on 1Xtra and Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. It was also a critical hit – Pitchfork named it the 44th best song of 2012. Furthermore, its stylish, monochrome video, featuring several dancing Alunas, notched up a very respectable number of views on YouTube and helped it to eventually reach number 55 in the UK charts. (It was later re-released after the album came out, and this time it peaked at 39, but they changed the video and it’s not as good.) Also on the EP are the sultry ‘Just A Touch’, possessing some brilliantly elastic bass and an effervescent hook, as well as the sweet and chirpy ‘Put Up Your Hands’.
The final single of 2012 was the appropriately drum-heavy ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, released in September, which reached number 50. It’s pleasantly lightweight and has a catchy, jerky rhythm. The anticipation for the debut album was soaring.
2013 & Their Survival:
So far, 2013 has proven to be an excellent year for electronic music in all its varying guises. Mercury Prize-nominees Disclosure led the garage revival with their fantastic debut, Settle, which featured the addictive hit single, ‘White Noise’. Released in February 2013 (the Apocalypse never happened, yay), the song is a collaboration with AlunaGeorge and was the duo’s first Top 40 hit (it peaked at number 2).
This successful start to the year came after they had been nominated for the Critics’ Choice at the 2013 BRIT Awards (but somehow lost out to Tom Odell – who knows?) and finished in second place in the BBC Sound of 2013 poll.
Their run of good fortune continued with the release of ‘Attracting Flies’ in March. It’s the best kind of synthpop: instantly memorable and a lot of fun. George’s pounding drums and energetic synths emphasise Aluna’s clear message: “everything you exhale is attracting flies”. Inspired by the lyric, “little grey fairytales”, the video is a gritty depiction of famous tales set in a modern, urban environment (Sleeping Beauty ODs on anti-depressants, etc.), showcasing the duo in a new light. The song received universal acclaim and climbed up to the top 20, as well as intensifying excitement for the album astronomically.
And then finally, after months of teasing, the album, Body Music, was set free at the end of July. Its amalgamation of R&B, garage and pop turned out to be a happy marriage. Opening track ‘Outlines’ breaks the album in gently. The occasional throb of bass mirrors the personal and introspective tone of the song, with the sultry, breathy vocals almost howling the refrain, “outlines of you”. It’s a great introduction and perfectly showcases the duo’s ability to harmonise on the more downbeat efforts. Songs such as ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ display the pair at their most playful, as well as exhibiting a great example of the ‘less is more’ approach that permeates the record. Driven only by a humming bassline, the understated vocals juxtapose wonderfully with the occasional jabbing synths. There’s also a cover of Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It’ thrown in for good measure; a slightly unusual choice for a cover perhaps, but AlunaGeorge’s retrospective style makes it work.
The album is not without its flaws; over fourteen or nineteen tracks depending on the edition, George’s signature minimalist production style occasionally threatens to transform into a gimmick. However, Body Music is, for the most part, a solid and assured debut that is also a great deal of fun. It’s a fresh and bouncy album which clearly suggests that there is plenty of potential for further future greatness from Aluna and George, just like what 2013 has offered them. Unless the Apocalypse happens this year instead. It’s possible. Those Mayans were knobs.