Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: Seeking Thrills • Georgia

Georgia Barnes comes from a line of dance floor devotees. Her grandmother, she told Billboard magazine, often danced with soldiers, swirling out of her given name, Lily, and into the smoother name, Lola. Her parents, unable to afford a babysitter, took her to raves when she was younger, introducing her to the power of dance music’s universal energy. And after frequenting Berlin’s dance music scene for a frame of reference, Georgia uses her experiences (and genetics, surely) to cement herself as a late-night party igniter.

Across Seeking Thrills, she sketches rough dancehall anthems – ones that would surely be overworked if passed to any given headliner on the electronic dance festival circuit – with vintage drum machines and starburst synthesizers. She introduces Berlin house music's griminess to the natural rhythm of the American Midwest's take on the genre, yielding something like "Started Out," a stroke of genius that forces the human body to a clunky shimmy under its command, or "About Work the Dancefloor," a self-referential dance song inspired in part by Robyn’s massive “Dancing On My Own.” (“Dancefloor,” however, captures the ecstasy of a moment on the floor firsthand, rather than from the perspective of a scorn lurker in the shadows.)

Most recently in the house music landscape, melodics have been shooed away to allow rap verses to be paved over the bass grooves and drum clicks – so in turn, Georgia has been place in a line-up between, say, M.I.A. and Santigold. When she sing-raps over spastic do-it-yourself beats, like on supercharged party tracks “Ray Guns” and “Mellow,” it’s a fair enough comparison, sure. But when she stabs angst through the beats, Georgia better reflects a glossy, synthesized pop-punk: Sugar rushes like “Never Let You Go" and “24 Hours” rub elbows with Greg Kurstin-era Tegan and Sara material, and “Feel It” is the chaotic good to the chaotic evil of Let’s Eat Grandma.

Seeking Thrills fulfills its mission soon after liftoff: Its first four tracks are relentless, slamming down hard beats and churning out the record’s best hooks early on. As Georgia’s influences begin to smear into each other and a few ambient tracks enter the mix, the latter half of the record mimics the ebbs and flows of a house party nearing its end – but for the lit late-nighters who keep glued in front of the stereo speakers, there is still plenty of payoff to be reaped.

Seeking Thrills is available now under Domino Record Company.

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