ALBUM REVIEW: JESSIE WARE – WHAT’S YOUR PLEASURE? (VIRGIN)
The Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter returns to her earlier, dance-leaning roots – and delivers one of 2020’s finest albums ***** Five stars
you’ve been missing your regular dose of weekend clubbing action
during lockdown, then Jessie Ware’s fourth album, What’s
will surely come as a massive comfort. To intents and purposes, the
Hammersmith-born singer has, with these 12 tracks, crafted a
glorious, kaleidoscopic celebration of dancefloor culture. Awash with
sultry, sexy grooves and rousing hi-energy disco bangers, it’s the
sort of record which will make you want to dig out your finest
sequins and strut your stuff – irrefutable proof that there’s
nothing quite like pop music to make you shed your inhibitions.
this will surely come as great news, of course, for those who are
particularly fond of Ware’s 2012 debut album, the Mercury-nominated
For many Jessie Ware fans (this writer included), it remains her most
future-facing album, a record whose cutting-edge production and
dynamic grooves earned her comparisons to Frank Ocean. Her subsequent
LPs – 2014’s Tough
and 2017’s Glasshouse
– were both well received but, if we’re to be honest, they simply
lacked the seductive edge of her debut.
in particular, seemed to stray a little closely towards Radio
2-friendly, MOR balladry.
certainly not an accusation you could label at her fourth album,
finally released this week after several COVID-19-incurred delays.
Crackling with verve and vivacity, it’s a record which sees Ware
returning to her club roots – and, we’ve pleased to say, she’s
never sounded better. There’s no safe, stately balladry here.
Rather, Ware – alongside Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford – has
assembled a rich, textured soundscape in which classic funk, house
and disco collides with innovative, futurist pop production.
are songs designed for lusty, steamy summer nights tripping the light
fantastic. Opening track ‘Spotlight’ kicks off with a sweeping
orchestra before exploding into a flurry of synth
swells and gyrating bass; the funk-fuelled title track echoes the
work of fellow disco queen Roisin Murphy; whilst the shimmering,
soulful ‘Mirage (Don’t Stop)’ perfectly captures those moments
of 3am dancefloor delirium. It’s as though Ware has gobbled up
several decades of her favourite party music, and What’s
Your Pleasure? –
from the Robyn-esque pulse of ‘Save A Kiss’ to the gospel-powered
‘Remember Where You Are’ – is her own beautifully curated
crucially, these are songs which bring out the very best in Ware’s
Although she’s clearly capable of X
vocal acrobatics (as Glasshouse
proved), Ware’s voice has always been a much more idiosyncratic,
versatile instrument. These 12 tracks – with their themes of
longing and sexual desire – provide the perfect platform on which
to showcase her playful, flirtatious side.
returning to her roots, Jessie Ware has delivered the finest, most
accomplished album of her career. However, this isn’t just an album
for those hardcore fans who prefer her earlier, more dynamic
material; it’s very much a record for anyone who believes in
music’s unique ability to provide fantasy and escapism. After
these past few months of lockdown, it’s just what the doctor
Your Pleasure? is released via Virgin on Friday June 26.