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Kindness Otherness Female Energy Records

Adam Bainbridge isn’t a subtle kind of guy. Two years after his none-more-confident debut World, You Need a Change of Mind, he returns with Otherness, a self-conscious departure from the florid soundscapes and crisp production of his first.

The album actually starts off with a track titled Restart, a conspicuous proclamation of the artist’s new direction. It feels less refined and more ethnological – With You’s Art of Noise samples and the coyly romantic Latin guitars in For The Young are perfect examples of such cross-contamination. Distancing himself from the tags of heartless revivalism previously affixed doesn’t mean he has discarded the omnipresent, neo-nostalgic tropes of sax solos and angelic harmonies, but they certainly have taken a back seat. And so, in fact, has Bainbridge himself. Gone is the bravado exposed in disco instrumentals and crooning utterances; Kindness has invited his friends along – Robyn, Kelela (twice), Devonté Hynes and more – and they’re welcome to take the front seat.

But aside from the decadent, pored-over sound palette, the album fails to propel itself anywhere. The long, extensive tracks have no development, while the feature spots add little to the depth of the body of work, and like an oasis in the desert, are but bursts of life within an arid landscape. Even when others take over the role of main vocalist there is little space for empathy within their grand generic statements. Geneva, with its exotic vocalisations and Arthur Russell-isms, falls into a vacuum when it tries to evoke any sort of autobiographical and sentimental attachment.

Otherness falls flat by lacking any sort of lasting memorable or evocative landmarks, preferring instead to place multiple aural beacons of allurement along the way.