Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Sigrid, Drenge, Sundara Karma, Indoor Pets and more.
Order a copy
March 2019
Review

James Bay - Electric Light

An album that spotlights raw, physical emotions with confidence.
James Bay - Electric Light
Published: 11:39 am, May 15, 2018
An album that spotlights raw, physical emotions with confidence.

Label: Republic Records
Released: 18th May 2018
Rating: ★★★★

It’s the spring of 2015, a Hertfordshire lad in a fedora, armed with a guitar, debuts at Number One with ‘Chaos And The Calm’, a record that showcases what was to become a signature brand of saccharine, soul-driven pop.

Three years on, and James Bay is about to drop a second record set to completely transform his already powerful position. He’s binned that goddamn hat, donned a short, messy quiff and armed himself confidently in sparkles a la pop-defining legend, Prince.

If ‘Chaos And The Calm’ was love, ‘Electric Light’ is sex. It’s not a messy one night stand, though; you’d be a fool to think Bay was going to completely lose his romanticism.

While his debut was a compilation of passionate acoustic works, Bay 2.0 flaunts electronic R&B, spacey synth and chunky alt-pop guitar riffs fit for arena sell-outs. These tracks are interspersed with the sound that made him so popular in the first place, and rightly so. A dash of piano, bluesy guitar lines and gospel backings (‘Us’, ‘Just For Tonight’, ‘Slide’), ‘Electric Light’ is versatile artistry, tackling a common theme which is so often ignored of its complexities within pop music.

Stand-outs come in the form of single ‘Pink Lemonade’ - an 80s-style extravaganza of transistor guitars and sleek surf-rocky pop - and opener ‘Wasted On Each Other’, a sexy, beat-thudding, riff-driven cut boasting Bay’s impressive falsetto. Bay follows the recent trend for electronic downtempo R&B with the intimate ‘Wild Love’ and the hip-swinging jazz sonics of ‘I Found You’.

His vocal is still rip-roaring, and complements more progressive instrumentation. Warped synth sounds scatter the record - on ‘Sugar Drunk High’, which sounds exactly as you think it will - and on the sweet funk jam of ‘Fade Out’, showcasing the reality of relationships in the digital age. Bay’s part-reinvention clearly has an appetite for being red-hot contemporary, if that means going all-out Daft Punk with the use of a vocoder (’Stand Up’).

This is an album that spotlights raw, physical emotions with confidence, in turn diminishing Bay’s original heart-on-my-sleeve sensibility. In a modern world of exhaustingly complicated relationships, ‘Electric Light’ is a little less serious, and a little more hedonist fun. Alice Mortimer

Give all this a try

“We missed so many deadlines…” - Drenge's third album is finally about to arrive
Feature

“We missed so many deadlines…” - Drenge's third album is finally about to arrive

Thankfully, ‘Strange Creatures’ is worth the wait.
Get Out - your weekly live music update, featuring Sigrid, Lewis Capaldi, Maggie Rogers and more
On tour

Get Out - your weekly live music update, featuring Sigrid, Lewis Capaldi, Maggie Rogers and more

Keep up with the latest show and festival announcements, tour news, ticket updates and more.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing