Julio Bashmore Knockin' Boots Broadwalk
Not many people get to be legends any more; the internet has made sure of that. When Matt Walker emerged in the UK house boom of 2009, he crept up on international radars for using the house template as a base to do something new. As his knack for producing anthems defined his career, with this came a sense of entitlement from an increasing number of onlookers. And while some OG fans found the inescapable Au Seve too much to bear, others assumed that every track he released was obliged to soundtrack their summer. On to the next.
But Walker had always been in his own lane, melding house music with his influences in disco, funk and 80s pop. Speaking in an interview with FACT last year, he explained how all his favourite musicians, Michael Jackson et al, had made albums. With Knockin’ Boots’ selection of shimmering pop, Walker is clearly trying to break away from the hit machine and to forge something truly timeless.
As a result there are relatively few true peak moments. Yet, Knockin’ Boots is pure joy throughout, from the opening disco sample to the ascendant chorus of Holding On and the gloriously sassy She Ain’t. Bark’s hands-in-the-air chords over ghetto house brashness lay bare the sense of humour in Bashmore’s earliest work, as does the feisty sample on What’s Mine Is Mine. In fact, you can imagine any number of these finding their way into every club and festival across the country, good and bad. It’s only on the balladlike experiments where things hit slightly off the mark, with Seven Davis Jr. turning the otherwise catchy For Your Love comical, while Let Me Be Your Weakness is left limp under the weight of the bangers preceding it.
There have been plenty of copycat attempts over the years, but Knockin’ Boots bears the indelible mark of Walker’s innate gift for making tracks that make you all warm and fuzzy, on and off the dancefloor. The only question that’s left is whether this will get the crossover success it’s clearly capable of.