Search The Line of Best Fit
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Jessie Ware’s That! Feels Good! is a joyous return

"That! Feels Good!"

Release date: 28 April 2023
Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good! cover
26 April 2023, 00:00 Written by Sam Franzini

It’s summer 2020, and the world has never been in more need of a reprieve.

Political uprising and a worldwide pandemic has rocked the world, and three months after Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia highlighted the absurdity of listening to dance-pop music from one’s own home, Jessie Ware returned with What’s Your Pleasure?, a shimmering disco explosion that acted as Ware’s breakout moment. Now, years later, her follow-up That! Feels Good! explores the same disco roots as her previous work, and sees her carving a niche in campy, luxurious dance-pop.

That! Feels Good! is, at large, far sillier than its predecessor – while it makes for a more joyous effect, it also renders the album a little less immediate. What’s Your Pleasure? grips the listener with both hands and whispers tales of nights out and dancefloor confessions with total seriousness, whereas That! Feels Good! oftentimes plays with reckless abandon. In Kylie Minogue terms, it’s Light Years vs. Fever, a battle of kitsch vs. elegance. What will win out in the end is likely due to personal tastes, but when the record combines the two, it’s at its most powerful.

Its flailing calls to the dancefloor are evident with the electro-disco “Pearls” and the obvious lead single choice of “Free Yourself”, filled with triumphant liberation. She asks her biggest questions on “Begin Again”, a meditation on life, capitalism, and what it demands. “I work all night, I do my thing, just killing time,” she admits, before asking if we could revert to a simpler (and pleasure-filled, I’m sure) time. It’s the socialist ideology of U.S. Girls’ “Poem” mixed with the humor of Marianne Williamson’s memed statement of “We need to completely recreate human civilization” and if Ware is at the forefront, I’m on board.

With its prioritization of fun, though, the lyricism becomes slim at parts. The narrator of “Hello Love” welcomes a partner back after a fight, and “Beautiful People” is an ode to the titular humans. Both are arranged exquisitely – especially on the former, where Ware sounds as silky-smooth and confident as ever – but its musings aren’t as pertinent or action-forward as they could be. The only true misstep is “Lightning”, a love song whose ideas are done before (“Show me love’s not just a wicked game,” she pleads), and its interpolation of a childhood lullaby with a trap beat (and out-of-place autotune) infusion goes nowhere.

There is room, though, for songs about nothing that are still energetic enough to bolster them: “Freak Me Now” and “These Lips” feature grooves Dua Lipa or Rósín Murphy would kill for. The latter, especially, closes the album out with an avalanche of desire. “These two lips can do so much more,” she promises, before joking on the bridge, “These lips are wanted in a hundred countries, maybe more!” Similarly, the purely camp “Shake The Bottle” showcases a slew of men that Ware passes for various reasons – living with one’s parents, not paying for dinner – with the same spoken-word intonation Madonna reserved for the bridge on “Vogue”. It’s the same sentiment as Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Beach House” a year prior but done in a much better way, and infuses the pleasure Ware so often sings about. You can hear the glint in her eye in the line “Shaky shaky! Shake it, hot! That’s the way to make my bottle pop,” ending the song with, of course, a champagne bottle’s pop. It’s music to get the sillies out, in the best way.

As she declares on the title track, Jessie Ware helms a vision of the future where “pleasure is a right”. That! Feels Good! isn’t as lyrically vibrant or extraordinary as What’s Your Pleasure? but holds its own with slinky grooves and a lane where Ware feels most comfortable. At each turn on the album and at meticulously placed lines, she’s surrounded by a chorus of voices that uplift, bring humor to, and highlight her own voice – the message being that she’s the star in this new world.

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