It is so hot here in London this week that the only immediately attractive record to write about is this EP from Khruangbin and Leon Bridges – not least because facing a lengthy session in headphones at an overheating laptop is about the least attractive activity I can imagine right now! While it has been out since February I only ordered it a month ago and received it this week. It made me very happy and it is perfect for this weather.
Some records just have that feeling of a hot day. They are full of life but taking it easy. The backline of bass and drums languish in the thick heat where all you can do is relax into it. Meanwhile, the higher registers refresh and cool like your favourite cold drink or ice cream. Songs I associate with this feeling are things like Massive Attack’s Angel (and many others form them), Pharcyde’s Passin’ Me By, and Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed. Whereas much of my hot weather music is electronic, it is this classic instrumentation tradition (like the Lou Reed track) from which the Texas Sun EP springs.
Texas Sun itself is a wonderful track that just drips with open American vistas. It puts you in a convertible car with the top down with your best friend on a baking Texas day on a long stretching road across the planes. Maybe wafting your arm in the breeze as you drive along.
The heat turns up for Midnight. The laid back rhythm section just with Leons singing sonically paints a heat-relieved late-night scene, joined by strings and backing vocals later on to flesh out the track. It has a flavour of the acoustic version of Tom Walker’s Just You And I too it in the run-up to the shared words. I’d take this one over that one any day though.
C-Side and Conversion continue in a similar vein where the soul basics are inflected with funky rhythms and Khruangbin audio cues and flourishes. C-side takes on a xylophone for its USP, accentuating the layered music and vocals that all melt together toward the back end of the track. Conversion is a more wistful and sluggish ballad such as takes you either to a late night jazz bar session or an extra hot day.
Throughout the record Khruangbin’s signature psychedelia-infused funk and country stylings are paired with the beautifully soulful voice of Leon Bridges. The EP achieves something truly remarkable by not deviating from either of the collaborators’ discographies as such projects can do, instead it serves to enhance and amplify them. It also does not outstay its welcome. To decide on an EP length creation is a genius move that leaves the listener wanting more while the artists know that we don’t really want any more than is offered here and that 4 tracks are enough. It is a match of artists made in heaven with a record that is perfectly executed.
I must be one of the only people not to get a coloured version of the vinyl record due to late ordering but when a record is this traditional in its inspiration there is something magical about the black record look. It is one for the analogue experience too. Often when one thinks of vinyl it is of the old classics of blues, jazz, funk and rock and roll. While other genres of course sound excellent on the format, this is a modern record steeped in nostalgia that deserves the time and ceremony of the traditional format.
That said, listen to it anyway you can, it is an excellent record that even if it’s not for you, will only take up 20 minutes of your time for the privilege of trying it out.