Jockstrap – ‘Wicked City’ EP review: ingenious, invigorating, and like little else right now

The London duo's mind-bending future-pop is dizzying, discombobulating and unmissable

How on earth does one describe this new EP by Jockstrap? There’s such a lot packed in here: flabby dubstep basslines rubbing up against light-footed piano turnarounds, pirouetting vocal lines jostling for space with thunderous kicks, impressionistic lyrics that offer us snatches of narrative without ever betraying the record’s core thesis. ‘Wicked City’ bubbles with the joy of creation as Taylor Skye and Georgia Ellery dance around one another, her plaintive songwriting draped in his wild, fizzy production like an intoxicating mist.

‘Robert’ opens the EP with deadpan vocals and great slabs of percussion, lumbering along like a glassy-eyed cousin of Black Midi’s ‘bmbmbm’. It’s a sly, uneasy start, and a significant sidestep for those who may have come to Jockstrap via the swooning likes of ‘Hayley’ or ‘I Want Another Affair’. To an extent, it sets the tone for the rest of this strange, invigorating record. ‘Acid’, the waltzing single with which the EP was announced, will perhaps feel more familiar to fans of those older tracks, but its dizziness and stop-start structure imply an underlying mischief that contrasts pleasingly with the superficial earnestness of Ellery’s singing.

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Much of the record works like this, as a dialogue between sincerity and piss-taking, delicacy and grunt, introspection and playfulness. Not that it ever becomes formulaic or predictable: indeed, one of the record’s most powerful moments is the muted outro of ‘Yellow In Green’, where at the exact point one might expect a leaden beat to enter, transporting the hitherto piano-based ballad from the drawing room to the club, we’re instead offered a beautifully subtle dab of noise-flecked synth, sketching the contours of the underlying chord structure and highlighting their most intricate details.

The closing one-two of ‘The City’ and ‘City Hell’ are a formidable pair, the former a heady cocktail of urbane confessional and sticky UK bass, the latter an elegant, vaporwave-esque breeze of a track that skates along a simple trap beat effortlessly, with hammy lead guitar lines deep below the whirlpool synths and autotuned vocals. The ingenious pivot into that track’s lithe second half, with Ellery’s most direct words yet (“Do you want a piece of me? Did you think that thing was me? Do you think that’s who I wanna be?”) providing a focal point, may be the crowning moment of the whole EP. Jockstrap sound like nobody else at the moment, and they’ve barely started.

Details

Release date: June 19
Record label: Warp

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