Gorgon City – Sirens – Review

‘Woah, let’s make it unmissable,’ Zak Abel screeches over pulsing synths throughout the chorus of ‘Unmissable’, the latest and greatest (thus far) single to be released from Gorgon City’s stunning debut Sirens. Well, Sirens is definitely unmissable. A rousing collection of house and dance tracks ensures that the listener is swept to the dance floor from the very first track, and held captive there until the closing moments of the album.

Despite employing several known artists, such as Maverick Sabre, Katy B and Jennifer Hudson, Gorgon City have (perhaps brilliantly) only released singles incorporating vocals from relative newcomers. House music is a brilliant stepping-stone for new artists – just look at the success Sam Smith has garnered off of the back of his ‘Latch’ collaboration with Disclosure. It’s perhaps apt that I mention the elephant in the room so swiftly – Gorgon City have, and will be, compared with Disclosure. Their work is similar. But where Disclosure crafted expertly polished organic house music, Gorgon City have gone for a more subtle take. Both albums are brilliant, and a must for a fan of house.

Whilst Settle was probably the album of 2013 (for me, at least, although Bowie’s The Next Day comes a CLOSE second), Sirens is easily the best album of 2014.

‘Real’, released back in February 2013, is subtle and simplistic (for house music anyway), and includes a gorgeous vocal from Yasmin. Beginning with a thumping beat, Yasmin’s impassioned vocal guides the listener along to a brilliant drop and a hand-clapping beat. Her simplistic chorus, of simply sampling the songs title, is one adopted on most tracks, but one which works exquisitely nevertheless. MNEK’s turn on ‘Ready For Your Love’ brings about a gorgeous marriage of house and soul, including a refined beat, a low, grumbling vocal, and a completely addictive chorus. MNEK is passionate and it’s evident from his voice. The final verse is both heartfelt and tender and a perfect blend of soulfulness and twinkling garage synths.

Bookending the album comes ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Hard On Me’, both featuring Maverick Sabre. The former is a sweeping introduction to the concept of the album – love – and once more features the staple simplistic chorus. The latter is perhaps the most surprising song on the album. ‘Hard On Me’ is barely comprehensible house music – it is entirely captivating and soulful. It’s a melancholy song and Sabre’s vocal draws inexplicable emotion: raw and tender, it pulls the listener in and makes them feel. ‘Please darling don’t use me’, Sabre begs towards the culmination of the track, and it’s deliverance draws gooseflesh.

Aside from ‘Hard On Me’ and ‘FTPA (Fuck The Pain Away)’ featuring Erik Hassle (this one is slow and equally melancholy, but with a somewhat more positive note), the rest of the album is an exuberant display of dance music with heart. Katy B is, predictable, brilliant on ‘Lover Like Me’ – she is entirely suited to this genre and needs to employ it more often. Incorporating a head-bopping beat that refuses to let go, a rousing chorus and a powerhouse vocal, it’s a definite standout of the album. Likewise Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Go All Night’ is equally addictive. Infusing dance with gospel, Hudson sweeps the listener off of their feet whilst Gorgon City amp the beats up to max to create a song that’s quite hard to forget. Meanwhile Laura Welsh’s ‘Here For You’ in an elegant collaboration of choppy beats, a soaring chorus and a euphoric, cinematic ending, whilst the Anne Marie-assisted ‘Elevate’ does just that: it elevates the listener to a completely different level over a blinking, pulsing chorus.

Just past the midway point, Sirens introduces the listener to the two standout tracks. ‘6AM’ is pounding from the offset, with a pumping beat played over layered, sampled vocals. Tish Hyman screeches her lyrics which brings the listener to the drop. It’s the drop which this song will be remembered most for, so jarring with the beat played over the chorus. Reggae infusions bring about a brilliant lyrical breakdown, in which Hyman implores ‘If I had a dime and a dollar/For Every motherfucker trying to holler/I’d probably make a million in an hour’. This reviewer thinks its pretty safe to day Gorgon City will be making A LOT from their debut.

And so we come ‘Imagination’. This song simply needs to be released as a single. Katy Menditta is perfect; her vocal is breathy and soaring and her deliverance of ‘I need you to use, use, use, use, use, use your imagination’ is stunning. It’s house, only darker, and quite unalike to most house tracks dominating the charts of late. ‘Imagination’ is the perfect example of Gorgon City’s multifaceted sound, but on Sirens there is plenty of other examples. No one song truly outshines the rest; every song deserves to be lauded.

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