Jul 07, 2021
By Michael Watkins
It’s been five years since we last heard from Laura Mvula, and boy what a five years it has been. From Western democracies sliding further into far-right leadership, to the outbreak of a global pandemic that has cost the best part of four million lives, I think we can safely say its been a tumultuous last few trips around the sun.
But hey, here we are. In mid-2021, and with the light at the end of the tunnel beginning to seep through, we need some great music to soundtrack our emergence back into the world. And, for a huge chunk of Mvula’s third studio album, she delivers just that.
In a recent interview she did on Jools Holland’s BBC show, she mentioned that one of the influences for her funkier, fresher, more vibrant sound was Whitney Houston. It’s always difficult to judge an album’s merits with a behemoth like that looming over it. But, at its best, Pink Noise lives up to this, and were mid-’80s Houston making music today, it isn’t difficult to imagine her producing something in this vein.
The main thing to say about Pink Noise is that it is undeniably, emphatically, unapologetically, mesmerisingly groovy. Overflowing with electronic textures and thriving, danceable musicianship, it is a record to which even a deceased person may be able to tap their foot along to.
Here, Mvula creates soundscapes so vast, and so full of life, that it makes the record feel like a truly substantive, immersive piece of work. The only issue, in this regard, is that it doesn’t maintain this throughout. There are some slower moments—“Conditional” and “Golden Ashes” spring immediately to mind—suck a surprising amount of momentum out of the album’s overall thrust.
Outside of these few notable moments, though, there are bops a-plenty. Pink Noise offers up a new, much more approachable angle to Mvula’s music, whilst remaining very notably her. It’s always a risk for an artist to take this long to release a new record whilst also pivoting to such a different sound, but largely, she pulls it off and then some. A wonderfully danceable and euphoric piece of electro-pop that is destined to soundtrack many people’s summers. (www.lauramvula.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
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