Soul Clap’s self-titled new album is a tour de force, the culmination of years of criss-crossing the globe for late night meetings with witch doctors and psychonauts of sound.
In the rollocking cascade of horns and brassy vocals in “Shine (This Is It)” you can hear for yourself the hard-fought knowledge that’s come to Charlie and Eli – knowledge that has come with frankly far more respect shown for the roots of House Music and where it came from than some contemporaries that grandstand about it.
Soul Clap (sometimes for clarity called “The Album”) features collaborations with Ebony Houston, Nona Hendryx – who features on their lead single, “Shine” – and more. It took me a minute to understand but I finally dig it: the Crew Love credo is not so much Soul Clap themselves but who they’re bringing with them. The influence of George Clinton is obvious but then it always was. Soul Clap seems less like a couple of aspiring producers stirring through the ash of the 21st century music industry as much as a new century’s version of Fatback.
The big fat-bottomed funk bass of “Future 4 Love” ft. Nick Monaco & Bill Bass Nelson sets the table, but this is far from just an overdose of bass and riff-heavy funk. “Shine” is maybe the best example of Soul Clap’s subtle touch – what sounds like a synth-based space disco gets soulful real quick, with most of the FX you’d expect from a modern production substituted with Nona’s vocal glories and sun-splashed horns. “Numb” with Ebony Houston is probably one of the most unique but finely crafted pop songs I’ve heard this year. Taking influence from the grandeur of new wave pop, they’ve crafted a better song for a John Hughes movie than any song that’s ever been in a John Hughes movie (except for Spandau Ballet “True.”) “Dirty Leslie” with Wolf + Lamb touches draws upon this and maybe Cornelius/Momus-influenced Japanese electro pop.
Most albums contain – at best – three or four songs you can listen to out of order and out of context. You might like ’em all at the start but three or four are what remain. There are twice as many on The Album that I can see picking out now, tomorrow, next month or a year from now and still feeling the vicarious thrill so apparent in their creation.