Following 2012’s World, You Need a Change of Mind, Adam Bainbridge's latest effort aims to take an extended stride forward with a fresh take on his diverse influences. The songwriter, producer and music video director has expressed his intent not to remain stationary in his creativity, recognising the vast artistic freedom available to musicians in 2014.
Employing this work ethic, there is certainly something tonally refreshing on Otherness. An off-beat jarring effect pervades the track list, coming in the form of hip-hop influenced beats and a soulful synthesised tones that feel closely intertwined with the up-tempo grooves of Jungle. This tried and tested formula is layered with punchy brass arrangements but as the bass lines maintain the funk throughout, Otherness never quite allows the listener to ease into its rhythm. Instead, it leaves one in a state of almost being ready to dance but left on the proverbial precipice.
There are a host of rather high profile cameos that bring their talent and add allure to the album, the best of which come from the likes of Robyn, Kelela and Ade, and Ghanaian rapper M.anifest. Each provide different twists of colour through the tie-dye of genres that Bainbridge infuses into his pop-funk. Unlike his debut record, which felt contrived to the point of pastiche, Otherness exhibits a much more mature and measured blending of genres.
The album is glued together well by rather sleek production, some tracks crafted by Bainbridge alone and others with a little extra help from Blue May and Grammy winning Jimmy Douglass. Whilst the production is pristine and the song structures demonstrate a fresh take on the funk genre, the conceit found in the lyrics is a little worn. Then again, one cannot fault an artist excessively for sourcing emotion from a cavernous pool of love and heartbreak.
In a time when Chic are more popular than ever and funk and soul has been resuscitated to soundtrack our nights, there may even be a small space for Kindness' pop-funk fusion in the mainstream arena. Otherness seems to have all the right elements to create a near perfect pop album but unfortunately it is the incongruity between subject and form that stops the album from taking off completely.
Words: Matthew Wright