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It seems that EDM 'supergroups' are fundamentally more viable than those of other genres. There’s no Loutallica, no U2 and Pavarotti, no Bing and Bowie. Instead, we’ve had Hudson Mohawke and Lunice teaming up as TNGHT, and before that the huge success of Benga, Skream and Artwork’s combined forces as Magnetic Man, and (less credibly, admittedly) Swedish House Mafia. Next in line then is Jack Beats, Scratch Perverts’ Plus One and Mixology’s Beni G. Careless, the first of many intended mini albums, is a jittery and slick as their cartoonish, dripping slime logo would lead you to believe with the album cover’s neon, slimy heart a sort of visual onomatopoeia of what is to come.
The tone (and BPM) is set earlier, with title track ‘Careless’ positively smiling with radio-friendliness, as electro house beats are overlaid with slightly trippy synth progressions, leading into an absolute earworm loop of vocals from Takura, who you may well recognise from a recent spot on Plan B’s Ill Manors.
The big guns are brought out early on, as it segues into ‘War’, with Example and Diplo, both major league players these days and adding even further to the by now wide, wide radio-friendly unit shifter grins which Careless evokes. Example does his standard, catchy but sub-par MC thing whilst Diplo and Jack Beats whirl around in tribal drums and deep bass.
Next up, another guest slot; this time with Dillon Francis providing soothing synths to contrast with Jack Beats’ wobbles and fidgets. Echoing ADULT’s ‘Hand to Phone’, both with its ominous opening announcement and it’s ensuing throbbing beats, ‘Epidemic’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album . A monotone voice intones, “This latest craze continues to be an epidemic of drugs, dancing and general debauchery. Can we make any sense of it?” whilst a mumbled, sunny “yeeeah” is the answer. Jack Beats are able to crystallise their philosophy to their listeners , before the ensuing liquid drop reduces them to mindless skanking.
This really is Careless at its peak, with no let up in the quality as stand-out track and re-edit ‘End of Love’ jumps straight in, all salsa drums, just enough glitch and a cleverly placed Leonard Cohen sample. It’s perhaps the simplest track on the album, but it’s an entirely successful exercise in restraint, leaving you wanting much, much more. Sublime.
Bringing even more single-shifting chops, MNEK makes an appearance too, collaborating on ‘Fast Girls’. It’s sunnier and less extremely pitch-bending and bleep-filled than some of the earlier tracks taking the intensity down a notch, and ending the album smoothly. It’s the warm light of morning, let’s-come-back-up track, guaranteed to generate a response even from those whose serotonin balance is well in the red.
Three instrumental versions (‘Careless’, ‘War’ and ‘Fast Girls’) are included as bonus tracks, which though perfectly enjoyable, only really highlights how well integrated the vocals have been – not obscuring, but rather elevating the backing beats and synths.
With Careless, Beni G and Plus One have managed to walk the line between eye-rolling glitch and slick, liquid drum and bass and, despite the consistent wallop of the bass, kept it surprisingly varied. Less mind bending and unrelenting than Dillon Francis or Skrillex (who released the LP a few weeks ago through his OWSLA label), it’s closer in nature to instrumental hip-hop, despite its glitch samples, and retains an accessible, radio-friendly vibe though it will doubtless please the devotees too.
Doubtless, it will only sound better live and Jack Beats will be playing a run of shows in October, including a slot a KOKO. Better watch out though, if you’re in attendance you’ll be in serious danger of sustaining third degree gurns...