• INC.
    No World (CD, LP)

    4AD

  • $13.99

With increasing frequency of late, indie rock bands have been appropriating R&B melodies, lyrics and styles, with varying results; one of the rare groups who have found their own sweet spot is the soft-spoken duo known as inc. Brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged have been in the background of many soulful productions over the past few years, working with everyone from Pharrell and the Neptunes to Nite Jewel, and they bring an authentic, respectful and natural aura to their own songs, resulting in a sound that manages to actually be R&B rather than aping it. Following a self-released 7" and EP from 2011, their debut for 4AD is a great example of how this sound can be approached and articulated. No World is a beautiful slice of modern-day quiet storm, mid-tempo jams that take a cue from the best of the 1990s and 2000s, as the brothers bring their own slow-burning, sensual blend of Maxwell and Aaliyah, peppered with memories of Prince's sexy down-tempo musings. The record can feel like a time capsule, an album-length dedication to R. Kelly's "Keep It on the Down Low" or Usher's "Climax," but with real quality and a pure clarity that's been missing from most of their contemporaries. Think of a less arty/academic How to Dress Well, a more fleshed-out/warmer xx, a less quirky Toro y Moi or Blood Orange, or a less over-the-top party-minded Weeknd; the closest comparison might be an American Jamie Woon. inc. present a polished album with radio appeal that could rival major label American artists like Justin Timberlake, The-Dream, or Robin Thicke.

With a sweet, understated charm and softly sung lyrics, No World's no-nonsense sequencing, warm sound palette, sparse arrangements and tight playing are utterly embracing. Subtle rhythmic references to footwork, trap rap and dubby electronica float throughout, adding to a hypnotic atmosphere and crossover appeal. These brothers are serious, not ironic, and the purity, passion and understanding of the R&B genre comes across throughout in a natural and sincere way. I've been a fan of these guys from their first single, and their album is better than I could have hoped. Instead of going for a more obvious crossover approach, there are no dance hits to be found here, as they seem to have gone inward and made an accomplished record that doesn't compromise their aesthetic; it's one of the most satisfying albums I've heard so far this year. Fans of moody and groovy modern electronic R&B, any the above-mentioned, or those looking for the modern equivalent to Donnie and Joe Emerson, Andrew and Daniel Aged have the blue-eyed soul game on lock. Perfect for making out, breaking up, or simply crushing hard.

-Daniel Givens (February 20, 2013)

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