Grovesnor: Soft Return

Grovesnor: Soft Return
When you insert Grovesnor‘s debut album, Soft Return into iTunes it lists the genre as “easy listening”. Judging from Grovesnor’s pedigree, I changed the genre to “dance”. You see, Grovesnor is Hot Chip drummer, Rob Smoughton’s new solo project. But after a listen to his debut album, iTunes may have been correct to list the album as “easy listening”.
There is nothing difficult about listening to Grovesnor’s new album. Soft Return is the type of album that you could fall asleep to as easily as you could dance to. The album is so agreeable that you could potentially play it while on hold waiting to get your cable fixed or you could play it in the elevator. Smoughton’s piano-driven production is reminiscent of 70s/80s hit makers, Hall and Oates. But Smoughton’s voice is the real story of the album. His smooth vocals have drawn comparisons to the velvet voiced Usher. That’s no surprise when listening to the album’s first single “Taxi From The Airport”. The track’s opening drum beat sounds directly lifted from A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away)”. The snaky keyboards on the track sound like Herbert covering the Doors. But through what is the most energetic track on the album, Smoughton delivers r&b-tinged vocals with a Stevie Wonder-like delivery. Not every track finds Smoughton flexing his tenor. On tracks like “Find A Way To Stop Him”, Smoughton shows off his falsetto and hits Justin Timberlake-esque high notes.
The album’s major weakness is the production. For the most part, Grovesnor straddles the line between retro and passe. At its best, the production is reminiscent of Kraftwerk. At its worst, it can sound like Kenny Loggins (and I’m not talking about “Footloose”).
With that said, I still think the album delivers remarkably well. The album is a perfect mixture of 80s kitsch, modern r&b, and indie dance. It’s sure to make you want to watch I Love the 80s as much as dance in an elevator endlessly.
Rating: 7.6/10
MP3: Grovesnor “Find a Way to Stop Him”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!

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