Jessie Ware
What's Your Pleasure?


4.5
superb

Review

by Christopher Y. USER (48 Reviews)
July 6th, 2020 | 708 replies


Release Date: 06/19/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: To live my life fearlessly.

What intrigues me about Jessie Ware is that she defies the norm as a pop star. From her breakthrough in a collaborative effort to contribute a song to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, the South Londoner's rise seems somehow out of nowhere. (Yes, you read it right.) Yet, somehow, her solo works are relatively eclipsed by these collaborative efforts, even with the promising debut that is Devotion. Her recording career has put on hold ever since the disappointing tour for Glasshouse and its diminished reception, despite it displayed her capability as a soulful vocalist. As a result, she ventured towards a rather curious turn to host a food podcast with her mother and wrote a cookbook. (Again, you are not mistaken) When I read an article about her food podcast, it seems to me that she has put her day job aside, especially that her mother has told her to give up music.

To another surprising left-turn, Ware did not listen to her dear mom and instead record another album, What’s Your Pleasure?. Working with James Ford, who has worked with Ware in Tough Love, the South London vocalist has presented an album that serves her most exciting and vitalized effort in years.

For starters, stylish, danceable music is one of the key consistent features that accentuate Ware’s brand new personality in the album. The opener “Spotlight” and the irresistible “Save a Kiss” are the prime example: The former is perhaps a lost track from the soulful pop of Devotion, begin with a typical string and piano accompaniment of a typical adult contemporary pop song with Ware’s sultry whispers, it later morphed into a dance track thanks to a sumptuous sonic seabed of pulsating rhythm sections, swirling strings, layered backing vocals, disco guitar scratches and the ghostly harps, while Ware crooned about a relationship falling apart (“Ain't enough to say that I think of you/Words can never do the things that I need them to”), yet she yearns to turn back the clock and start over (“If I had everything my way/We'd travel back and forth and back again”); The latter, on the other hand, is a Robyn electro-pop meets old-school disco, with Euro-dance synths and beats and rapturous strings, Ware sings about the nervousness in a love at first sight(“Don't know how you do it, you're always striking the match”) and the ecstatic high of experiencing it(“Now my heart is racing/Passing all the places we’ve been”), while asking her crush to save a kiss for her. While it may sound like a typical love song, “Save a Kiss” perhaps could be translated as an unhealthy obsession on a crush, apparent in the line “Say you want no lips but mine/Save the thought of me tonight”. It might be far-fetched, but this shows that Ware has preserved her matured approach in her songwriting that gelled in Glasshouse.

Indeed, Ware’s persona in the album is more similar to various dance music and R&B-funk musicians. Whether is it the artsy finesse of Irish diva Roisin Murphy(the Ruby Blue-dance pop “Step Into My Life” and the melancholic dance anthem “Mirage(Don’t Stop)”), the sleek charm of Goldfrapp (the chiming “Adore You”), the slick funk of Janet Jackson(the indelible “Soul Control”, the rubbery bass-driven “Ooh La La” and the sassy introspection “Read My Lips”), the sensual beauty of Massive Attack (the synth bass arpeggio-driven “In Your Eyes”), the dark drama of Kate Bush(the cinematic “The Kill”), the angelic melody of Minnie Riperton (the space-age-meets-Motown “Remember Where You Are”), or even the mesmerizing presence of Queen of Disco that is Donna Summer(the neon-lit sequel to “I Feel Love” that is the title track), each track sounds like nothing in the singer’s previous output. Some may say this direction somehow undermines the singer's vocal talent, trading the Whitney Houston vocal weightlifting for the lesser, airy vocal acrobats. Yet I disagree since both have married together successfully into an enchanting brew of music without losing the singer’s signature elegance while gleaming her newfound charisma as a captivating performer.

The songwriting here is impeccable as well. While the lyrics do steer away from the mature introspection in Glasshouse, it is far from a single-dimension pop record. Including the aforementioned “Spotlight” and “Save a Kiss”, the album is filled with lyrics that tinged with a nuanced and sometimes cheeky outlook on romantic dramas and sexual escapades. Whether is it a steamy yet wicked stab at frivolous one-night stands (the title track, “Step Into My Life” and “Ooh La La”), or the caricature of an unhealthy and abusive relationship (“Adore You”, “Soul Control”, “Mirage(Don’t Stop)”), a satire on unrealistic romance ideals (“Read My Lips”), or the letting go from the pain of a breakup (“In My Eyes”), Ware and the songwriters have delivered lyrics that are both euphoric and mature. The closing two tracks that are “The Kill” and “Remember Where You Are” are, however, the two strongest moments in terms of songwriting. The nocturnal former is perhaps the most bittersweet moment in the album, where she laments about the lack of healthy communication (“You wanna show me you love me/But forget how to reach me”), and shrugs off at his hypocrisy (”I know you better than yourself, honey, only I know”) and his overwhelming affection (“Don’t try to kill me with your love”). The latter, meanwhile, is the most cheerful and upbeat tune in the album, camouflaging the lyrics that are apocalyptic(“The heart of the city is on fire/Sun on the rise, the highs are gonna fall”) and political (“We are the last ones of our kind/Freedom of our hearts and mind”) with a romantic and anthemic edge, as if Ware is singing a call to arms to her listeners to rise in the Johnson-era in her native UK. With such a blend of mature commentary with dance-club ready joy, this elevates the singer's maturity as an artist and thus solidifying the record as a triumph in her discography.

Yes, Ware’s vocals have not put in the forefront like previous albums, which buried by the lavish production, and that some tracks may sound similar to each other. Not to mention that the single “Overtime”, which bridged between Glasshouse and this album, did not make to the cut. Yet, it was such flaws that reflect a new side of Jessie Ware: a care-free woman who wants to enjoy her night at the clubs, yet is fully aware of the potential consequences. Clocking in at 53 minutes, What’s Your Pleasure? is a tour de force that proved Ware is still capable of delivering indelible earworms without losing her maturity and consistency. To put it shortly, Ware gave us a record of what we need right now: One for us to have some fun.

Personal Rating : 4.4/5

Recommended Tracks:
Spotlight
Save a Kiss
Soul Control
The Kill
Remember Where You Are



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"I just wanna stay in the moonlight. This is our time in the spotlight"...



Comments:Add a Comment 
SherlockChris9021
July 6th 2020


219 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. The review for the recently hyped album. I originally wanted to write this within a week after its release, but my schedule and writer's block hindered me to complete it.

Anyway, here we are, enjoy your potential summer soundtrack.

As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.

ReefaJones
July 6th 2020


1311 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

AOTY so far

ReefaJones
July 6th 2020


1311 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Actually I take that back I forgot about RTJ4 haha

SherlockChris9021
July 6th 2020


219 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Actually I take that back I forgot about RTJ4 haha"

Yeah, I would leave that spot for this or RTJ4, both of them are such a timely album.

Colton
July 6th 2020


7284 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not really feeling the first 4 tracks, but then after that it suddenly becomes amazing.

Digging: Pinegrove - Amperland, NY

bloc
July 6th 2020


64367 Comments


Best album I've heard since 2018

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
July 6th 2020


6378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm in need of bangers, I'll check this one

Digging: The Body - I?ve Seen All I Need To See

ReefaJones
July 6th 2020


1311 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In Your Eyes is my favorite here

Lord(e)Po)))ts
July 6th 2020


65115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"This barely sounds like Future Nostalgia idk what you guys mean, but it's good though"



They draw from the exact same sets of stylistic influences (nu disco/dance pop) except Future Nostalgia is a product of reimagination while this is a nearly full on throwback/recreation. Hence the "meet future nostalgia's mother" soundoff and other comparisons.

Digging: Goldie Boutilier - Very Best

Ryus
July 6th 2020


22218 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

spotlight is so good goddamn

Digging: Hyroglifics and Sinistarr - BS6

Romulus
July 6th 2020


8920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

shockingly didn't dig this that much which was odd given how much this seems up my alley/how much i've enjoyed her other stuff. will def give it more spins

SherlockChris9021
July 6th 2020


219 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Romulus: Indeed you should give more spins. I wasn’t into Spotlight until after a few listens, as well as other tracks.

alamo
July 6th 2020


3549 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ooh la la has to be my fav

Colton
July 6th 2020


7284 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah Pots the stylistic influences are similar but the instrumentation and vocal melodies are different enough that I don't think it warrants like half of the sound offs comparing it to Future Nostalgia, might just be me though. There's only a few songs on here that I think would actually fit on Future Nostalgia

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 6th 2020


26177 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

spotlight is so good goddamn [2]

Digging: Teenage Bottlerocket - Warning Device

SherlockChris9021
July 6th 2020


219 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I literally don’t think this album should be compared to Future Nostalgia. Sure, the style is similar, and Future Nostalgia has some good tunes, but this album reigns supreme in terms of depth and consistency.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
July 6th 2020


65115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The comparisons are 100% warranted being two big pop releases in the same year with the exact same stylistic origins. The point isnt whether or not they are interchangeable, that's silly. Of course they arent identical! The point of comparison is to note the ~differences~ in inherently similar things, not to try and find a complete lack of them.



But yes agreed that this is vastly superior.

Colton
July 6th 2020


7284 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I guess, I just don’t think they’re all that similar in terms of how they actually sound but the influences might be the same. But comparing one album to another like that is a boring discussion anyway



Tracks 5-8 on this thing are entrancingly catchy

alamo
July 6th 2020


3549 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ooh la la and dua's break my heart have like the exact same instrumentals



also i dont think this has more depth than future nostalgia at all. though this is def more classy

Lord(e)Po)))ts
July 6th 2020


65115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I mean sharing the same stylistic origins implies they share a lot of sounds. And they do. They have similar synths, percussive sounds, rhythmic elements, aesthetics etc etc. Comparing them may be boring but denying the plethora of similarities entirely is just vexing rofl.



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