R&B and soul is undergoing a major renaissance in the UK, with, for instance, members of London’s New Gen collective – see upcoming talent Renz and the BBC’s Sound of 2017 winner Ray BLK – taking a cool, understated approach to the genre. London four-piece Croox are cresting that wave. ‘Loyal’, the track they performed at UltraLounge, the in-store venue at Selfridges in central London, is a fine example of the crisp, muted beats and soulful lyrics that are defining the scene right now.
The UltraLounge is a 360-degree stage covered with video screens that artists can use to create unique performances. The UK’s first permanent in-store venue, it’s currently host to Music Matters, a three-month series of shows intended to raise awareness of the fact that, according to the Music Venue Trust, 40% of London’s grass-roots venues have closed in the past 10 years. The campaign consists of performances from acts as diverse as Irish hip-hop newcomers Hare Squead, acoustic balladeer Charlie Cunnginham and trip-hop legends UNKLE. A hearty 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Music Venue Trust in a bid to preserve the kinds of small venues that help artists to find their feet, meaning this is more than just a fantastic performance – it’s part of a wider movement to foster the talent of tomorrow.
Without those kind of spaces, we might not have bands like Croox injecting new energy into UK music. Upon releasing ‘Loyal’ earlier this year, they explained: “’Loyal’ is a really special song to us… We were never sure that we would be able to do it justice”. That quote was about the studio version of the track, of course, but the video above proves how well Croox can do justice to the song in an intimate creative space such as the UltraLounge.