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Lapalux - Nostalchic (Review)

Lapalux, Nostalchic

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

LAPALUX – aka 25-year-old Stuart Howard – drops his debut album and partially impresses as an electronic DJ/artist to watch.

Meshing elements of his beloved R&B and soul into elements of houseand hip-hop, Nostalchic has several good tracks where it’s easy to see how he’s been able to make friends of Diplo and SBTRKT.

But he doesn’t always get things right and some of his music feels a little too washed out, anaemic or playful for its own good.

Evidence of the former is to be found in slick openers IAMSYS and GUUURL, which combine those R&B and hip-hop elements over swishing synths and snappy beats.

But evidence of the latter is also to be found on tracks like Kelly Brook, in which he chops up the smooth flow of the electronics to create something that never gets going and which is, therefore, frustrating.

There’s another side to Lapalux too… one in which, like Bonobo, he employs vocalists. Hence, One Thing features a drop dead gorgeous vocal from Jenna Andrews that somehow recalls Whitney Houston and lends soulful sophistication to a track that, again, might have seemed a little lifeless without it.

You could almost suggest that vocal collaborations may well be the best way forward as they certainly highlight the album at its most interesting.

Likewise, former single Without You featuring Kerry Leatham, which has a rainy-day blues vibe that also drops slowed and sped vocals.

Astrid Williamson crops up on Dance to again provide soothing vocal accompaniment to some sparse, almost haunting electronics. But it’s the very antithesis of a dance track – more like a late night comedown record that flirts with you repeatedly.

When he picks up the pace, too, Lapalux can be more interesting, as on the track Swallowing Smoke, which drops a vibe not a million miles removed from Bonobo. On The Dead Sea, meanwhile, a squall of jazz trumpets plays over urgent percussion, swirling bass and vocal like textures to create a heady brew.

Endlessly fascinating, even when not being entirely successful, Lapalux’s long-in-the-making debut is worth the wait if you’re a fan of the alternative electronic scene.

Download picks: IAMSYS, GUUURL, Without You, Swallowing Smoke, The Dead Sea

Track listing:

  1. IAMSYS
  2. GUUURL
  3. Kelly Brook
  4. One Thing
  5. Flower
  6. Swallowing Smoke
  7. Without You
  8. Straight Over My Head
  9. Dance
  10. The Dead Sea
  11. Walking Words
  12. OEA