Admittedly, my musical passport doesn’t boast many stamps from the land of dreamy, sexual, R&B-laced electro-pop. Maybe that’s my loss, but after listening and re-listening and re-re-listening to No World, the first LP and second 4AD release from fraternal LA duo Inc., I don’t think I’ll be buying vacation property there any time soon. While rich with textures and certainly rife with ambition, it attempts and achieves a certain slowburn, sex-soundtrack dynamic, but ultimately No World packs a hefty share of promise that fails to deliver the… um, climax.
“The Place” which opens the LP, is a pretty song. It is well sung and thoroughly crafted but never really seems to take off, Perhaps that tantric frustration is precisely the point, but it (and a few other tracks herein) left me searching for something to sink my teeth into.
“Black Wings” is a better offering that has a focus that unfortunately serves to show that other songs don’t, which is at once a relief and cause for alarm. “Lifetime” and “5 days” revive the spirit of the opener, which seems to weigh things down a bit. At this point in the record, I began to feel as if a certain same-iness would drag this record into oblivion, but beginning with “Trust (Hell Below), things take a turn for the better.
“Your Tears”, “Seventeen” and particularly “Desert Rose (War Prayer)” really showcase the delicate nature of the instrumentation. While at times conspicuously absent, these measured doses of guitar work are a major strength of Inc. that should be highlighted instead of relegated to snippets.
The final track, as is so often the case on LPs, is a non-sequitur, but a good one, a gorgeous instrumental with surreal piano tones intertwined with whirling textures that leaves a much more pleasant taste in the mouth than much of what it follows.
As a whole, No World hits as often as it misses, which is, in a nutshell, my sticking point with the record. It would almost be a relief if the brothers Inc. just couldn’t do any better, but there is so much done well here, that it sets its own expectations and that is a dangerous game to play.
There is little doubt that some folks will love this record, and I can see it, Daniel and Andrew Aged are capable musicians and that is clear throughout this record but it just wasn’t enough for this reviewer, as I left No World still hungry and a bit sleepy.
No World comes out February 19th on 4AD Records.
By Joe Romeo