Cast your mind back to ‘Before’. Before the baby oil. Before the Vaseline on the lens. Before Love was in “this club” and before Bieber.
Usher’s first two albums were babyfaced, slabs of slow jam perfection and then… well, and then shit happened. We’re probably the last people to expect a late-career resurrection for Usher, but here it is, aided by none other than… Diplo. I know, I know but this is much better than that Blackberry advert.
Unlike the brilliant, Major Lazer-lite tracks he provided for Beyonce and Nicola Roberts, ‘Climax’ is built on a loner riff, a haunting one-noter. The producer provides a sparse, drum machine-driven bit of musical accompaniment and you’re left thinking, quite unbelievably, that the space between Usher and The Weeknd isn’t that far away after all (I know).
And although never trading in the same masochistic landscape himself, the appearance of ‘Climax’ in a post emo-hop landscape, finds Usher re-locating his dignity after years spent mooning under the wing of dodgy collaborations (will.i.am and David Guetta) and suggesting he’s the grand daddy of the movement after all. What’s key, it seems is that despite its title, there’s a distinct lack of smut on ‘Climax’. With the perv factor toned down, it’s just Usher playing it fast and loose in falsetto. The result is as subtle as it is unbelievable.