Sinkane - MEAN LOVE - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sinkane - MEAN LOVE

by Rich Morris Rating:9 Release Date:2014-09-01

Former Caribou and Yeasayer collaborator Sinkane has played a blinder on his fourth album. Mean Love is an effortlessly stylish and damn sexy mix of creamy soul, soupy funk and effervescent African styles.

Ahmed Gallab's weightless voice soars over irresistibly groovy album highlights such as ‘New Name’, ‘Yacha’ and ‘Young Trouble’. ‘Moonstruck’ is built on delicate Latin rhythms and cool jazz vibes, like Gallab is remaking ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ for the hipster generation. Opener ‘How We Be’ bares the mark of his collaborators in its crunchy beats and low-slung guitar, while its combination of trembling flute and tough, questing funk channel Curtis Mayfield.

There are some real idiosyncrasies here, choices which just shouldn’t pay off but do: The title track, for example, starts off like a sparse, alt-R&B cover of Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ before country guitars kick in, Gallab already sky-scraping voice climbs to a nut-squeezing falsetto and the whole thing just sounds, well, unique, but also instantly memorable and hummable. Quite a feat.

Slide-guitars appear again on the lovely ‘Galley Boys’, wrapping themselves around a vocal melody indebted to The Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. ‘Hold Tight’, meanwhile, is just the most jaw-droppingly perfect, ice cool plastic soulboy confection since David Bowie’s ‘Right’.  Only ‘Son’ doesn’t quite hold together, Gallab’s falsetto straining to inject drama into a sluggish, minimal backing.

It’s tempting to put such wild diversity down to Gallab’s globe-trotting history: he was born in London and spent his infancy in Sudan before moving to the US where he lived in Boston, Utah and Ohio. He now resides in (where else?) Brooklyn. However, this neat explanation would do a grave disservice to the most face-slappingly obvious thing about Gallab: he’s insanely bloody talented.

Gallab is doing what How to Dress Well’s Tom Krell would probably like to believe he can: skipping with ease from the alternative vanguard to mainstream accessibility, melding clashing genres and soulful, emotion-drenched vocals in a way that hits the listener with maximum impact. The fact he’s also bringing such a sense of fun to proceedings makes this unexpected treat all the sweeter. 

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