What’s Your Pleasure? – Jessie Ware – Rave Reviews

A 53-minute hit of pure pleasure

9.0/10

Amid the chaos of 2020, Jessie Ware wants to take us back to the 70s – even if just for 53 minutes. Of all the disco-inspired music to come out of this year, Ware’s ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’ is the most derivative of a bygone era. Yet, it’s hard to get annoyed at the derivative nature of ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’, both because of how proudly it owns this identity and how enjoyable a listening experience this album offers. In fact, it is only when this album starts to deviate from it’s 70s disco sound towards a more classic Jessie Ware sound that the songs become anything less than excellent (though there are no bad songs on this project).

While much of current popular music focuses on confronting the issues of the day, ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’ is an exercise in escapism. Ware’s fourth album takes listeners back to the days of 1970s dance clubs, and does so with such effectiveness that even listeners who are too young to remember such a time (Ware included) can vividly imagine it.

The album’s progression mirrors the various stages of dancing in the club – the slow start, the buildup of exhilaration and, the eventual return to reality at the end of the night. The album’s first track – ‘Spotlight’ – begins with a moody, stripped back, anticipatory introduction before moving into the more vibrant, light-hearted mode that most of the album operates in.

After ‘Spotlight’, the album moves into more sensual territory, with Ware dreamily singing “stop, go fast, slow / Here together, what’s your pleasure?” on the title track, and then singing “we touch and it feels like magic” on ‘Soul Control’ – the album’s most accessible track.

Ware continues this tone right up until the final few tracks on the album. Ware first starts to come down on ‘Mirage (Don’t Stop)’; a slower track whose plea to “don’t stop moving together / Keep on dancing” feels more like an agonising wish than it does a realistic prospect.

However, it is in penultimate track ‘The Kill’ where the mood of the album really begins to switch, with Ware trading in the ecstasy and romanticism of previous tracks for an honest recognition of the complexities of love and relationships.

Then, in the aptly named final track ‘Remember Where You Are’, Ware once and for all brings listeners back to reality (“the highs are gonna fall”) and recognises the chaos of the world as it is now (“the heart of the city is on fire”). The track would be apocalyptic if it wasn’t for the smooth beat and dreamy vocals that give it an undeniably comforting feeling. On this track, Ware manages to reconcile the instability of the world with the euphoria of love. Yet, the love she talks about on this track is distinctly different from the love she talks about on the rest of the album – this love is less unstable, less head-over-heels, less fleeting. It’s still passionate, but it’s more stable and reliable – it’s built on a foundation strong enough to bare the pressure of modern-day stresses. On ‘Remember Where You Are’ Ware gives into the chaos of the modern day, but finds that this chaos only reinforces the need for – and the strength of – love (“Can we keep loving on the edge of doubt?”, “As your destiny unfolds, hold on”). It is in this final song that Ware turns this album from a pure nostalgia hit into an empowering anthem for modern-day listeners; who can find strength and buoyancy in this 53-minute hit of pure pleasure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s