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Jam City Presents EFM is unabashed giddy fun

"Jam City Presents EFM"

Release date: 25 May 2023
Jam City - Jam City Presents EFM cover
29 May 2023, 07:00 Written by Joe Creely

Jam City has made a career of grand sonic pivots.

With his three full-lengths under his own name, he’s moved from the future-facing club music of the still wildly influential Classical Curves, through the simultaneously numbed and desperately emotional dream pop of Dream A Garden to 2020s under-heard, hyperkinetic bedroom pop Pillowland. Throw in producing and songwriting work for a cavalcade of disparate artists, including work on a heavy chunk of Kelela’s out-and-out modern masterpiece Take Me Apart, and predicting the sound of his next album has begun to feel like a totally pointless endeavour.

Pillowland while less explicitly political than his previous work, still felt couched in an anti-capitalist framework, seeming to interrogate escapism while it embraced it. Jam City Presents EFM on the other hand doesn’t do this, instead diving in headlong. More than anything it feels like an immaculately written love letter to dance and pop music, more akin to the work of a master craftsman than the person who briefly became a poster boy for ‘conceptronica’.

It’s wonderfully done, with a barrage of giddy drum patterns, luminescent synth tones and balmy chords. It all coalesces into this warm glow, tunes like "Magnetic" and "Wild N Sweet" just surge with it, the direct inverse of the way Dream A Garden seemed to have an inescapable weight at its centre that at every moment of ascension would pull it into the gloom. Even the downtempo "Tears at Midnight" feels like it’s a distillation of 80s pop at its most life-affirming and joyous. Crucially it never feels like someone trying a genre on, it always feels totally and earnestly felt. "Reface" blurs Aidan’s vocalisations into a keening, desperate plea, and banishes any sense that this is someone coming from the lofty, experimental world to inquisitively poke and prod at the bodily world of joy, but rather someone who loves and believes in the singular power of pop music.

By its nature, with its rolling cast of guest singers, it doesn’t quite have the same sense of character that Jam City’s other records do, often feeling more like a mix or even a playlist, but it’s hard to find real fault when the vast majority of the songs are such good fun. It feels pointless to wonder whether this is a pointer to any sort of new direction and whether this change is for good, instead just enjoy it for what it is, an album of unabashed giddy fun.

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