Review Summary: Chic house producer finds himself hiding the very things that made him such a breakway success
As someone who has apparently decided to shoulder the weight that is the now almost cliché application of r&b into a world of tightly coiled suspension and cavernous density, Montreal based Jacques Greene certainly has a lot to live up to. Whether his musical illusions are simply a by-product of Untrue
’s unmitigated success (its acclaim outside of the genre bought around by its r&b pop gleaning), or perhaps even as something more recent as James Blake’s Harmonimixes remains to be seen, but Greene’s musical evolution is brokered through the eyes of deliberate influence. He makes decadent and perfunctory music for people cut of the same cloth, deliberately more at ease entangled in sweat and grind than built to challenge the anathema of the coming day. Videos of models stumbling back to their hotel rooms to do whatever it is that models do after the appletinis have run dry give rise to the idea that Jacques Greene is selling himself to a very profitable market, and we the devoted listener are following in those footsteps, smelling the traces of perfume like an afterthought, hot on the heels of this chic debauchery.
For Greene’s first release under his newly-minted Vase imprint, he conjures up his love for the rebellious pop of Drake and The-Dream beyond simple name dropping and casual inserts into his live set. Lead track ‘Flatline’ attempts to milk this apparent resurgence in soul-baring r&b for all its worth, switching out Greene’s usual sampling practice for former labelmate Anglo’s muted doldrums. It’s an obvious attack at something that, like Greene’s earlier output, swings its pendulum arc far too often to the beat of the hip underground. Its savviness is undone however by its very influence; as a point of comparison it fails to offer anything of significant value, and even when Greene wisely amps up the extremities in its closing statements it isn’t enough to save it from being anything more than simple idol worship – the switch from the pop and clap of its spartan upbringing to funky 2 step is only met with the possibilities of what the track could have been. It operates like that drunken walk down to the open bedroom door; it’s hesitant and nervous, shy but intrigued about crossing that threshold, but once it finally gets its feet over that plush line in the sand it closes the door behind it, shutting out all observation. ‘These Days’ builds upon the overt sexuality but wisely moves it from the calamities of the bedroom and re-applies it in the middle of a drugged out sea of faceless individuals, all joined at the hip and dancing in perfect synchronization to the hazy tribal blowback – its touch alternating between aggressive buffeting and a subtle caress.
By contrast, ‘Clark’ is maddeningly delicate, even awkward in its apparent inability to simply let go. It’s a case of less being apparently more for Greene, and in this new territory he unwisely finds himself dialing everything down to its inevitable stopping point as simple background ambiance, to the point where it really doesn’t end up having anything to say about…. well, anything. You can feel the artist in there, subtly attempting to communicate his usual wonky appeal, but he leaves himself no escape, no backdoor to emerge out of. His closer ‘Arrow’ (complete with appearance by frequent comparison point Koreless) attempts to rectify this situation, and by giving himself ample time to break through that shell he provides the listener with, at the very least, one of his most intriguing beats yet. As a piece of work designed to shake off the limbo it serves its purpose suitably, but too often does it recall similar works that were able to heighten the motifs ‘Arrow’ chooses to only hint at (Floating Points’ recent ‘Sais’ immediately comes to mind).
If the cover for Another Girl
was Greene’s acceptance of the glamour and the sparkle, Concealer
is the mask for that now fractured bust, hiding the blemishes of a thousand cracked mannequins. It’s a shade more innocent, now dealing more in strawberry kisses than out-and-out sexuality, but in the submission Greene has sadly lost something. Jacques Greene, as an artist subdued or even confined, is not something worth exploring, and while Concealer
hints at a far bigger picture, it shows that here is an artist better served wallowing amongst the beautiful people.