Some of Jessie Ware‘s first musical steps, over a decade ago now, were squarely in the direction of the dancefloor. After a stint singing backing vocals for Jack Peñate, Ware was introduced to electronic whizz SBTRKT, and together they dropped the squelchy, UK garage-flecked ‘Nervous’. She later lent her vocals to Joker’s glitchy dubstep track ‘The Vision’, and further SBTRKT tunes; but as Ware started to put out her own solo releases, her tunes became far more rooted in soul, R&B and sophisticated pop.
That’s not to say Ware left the club completely – debut album ‘Devotion’ snuck in flickering production and skittering rhythms, while follow-up ‘Tough Love’ boasted moments of breathless ‘80s disco that’d do Prince proud. Yet by the time Ware dropped ‘Glasshouse’ – a third album of introspective, soul, filled with musings on motherhood and family – it felt like she’d moved away from her earlier musical forays.
But on her fourth album – ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’ – Ware rediscovers her strut, on a record filled with euphoric disco, funk and groove. Produced by Simian Mobile Disco‘s James Ford, Ware also assembled a crack team of co-writers and collaborators including synth-pop extraordinaire Kindness, trendy composer Jules Buckley (who did the orchestral arrangements and strings) and Metronomy‘s Joseph Mount. The result is a collection of exhilarating floor-fillers that fuse future-facing production with heady ‘80s sounds.
‘Ooh La La’ – with its swaggering bassline and flirty lyrics – is a slinky slice of filthy funk, and ‘In Your Eyes’ a woozy amalgam of rippling synths and smoky strings. ‘Step Into My Life’ meanwhile is a shimmering, new-wave laced smasher that evokes images of the New York disco scene. Despite borrowing heavily from the past, there’s an element of timelessness that threads through the album, particularly on songs like ‘Mirage’ (a tropical treat that borrows from Bananarama, and wouldn’t feel out of place on Robyn‘s ‘Honey’) and ‘Soul Control’ (an effervescent radio ready hit that could easily fit on Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’). And although there are a few lulling moments (the icy ‘The Kill’, minimalistic ‘Adore You’), for the most part ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’ is filled with nostalgia-laced treats.
An intoxicating cocktail of seductive beats, exhilarating choruses and sleek production, ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’ is pure escapism. Moving away from the wistful melancholy that permeated her last record, here Jessie Ware takes to the dancefloor – and you’ll want to join her.
Release date: June 26
Record label: PMR