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Love Songs Pt. 2
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  • On his second full-length for Ninja Tune, London-based producer Romare continues to refine his brand of warped house music. The album is a full-length sequel to his Love Songs, Pt. 1 EP from 2013, and it adheres closely to its theme, with cooing, romantic vocal samples and sensuous grooves that lean closer to midtempo (there's none of the juke-inspired frenzy of his earliest EPs). The album actually features more of Romare's own playing than his previous sample-driven releases, including usage of instruments originally owned by some of his family members, and while his simple-yet-effective keyboard licks are noteworthy, the samples still take precedence. He has a very choppy, collage-like sound; the samples are definitely not seamless, and it doesn't seem like he wants them to be. The beats on songs like "Je T'aime" are a bit wobbly and detached, but through repetition they manage to gel together. Likewise, there are plenty of tracks that seem tentative and uncertain until they finally develop more elements. "Honey" starts out with just a faintly tapping beat and whistling synths, until a series of crackly samples are gradually looped in (including a silky voice singing "are you beautiful?"). Eventually a bassline and piano melody show up, and it begins to sound fuller and more developed. Other tracks, like "All Night" and "Come Close to Me," are sly, casual house shufflers reminiscent of Detroit veterans like Moodymann and Theo Parrish. "Don't Stop" appears in the middle of the album and brings the tempo down to a crawl, with a snarling, twangy guitar riff and some of the album's more offbeat samples. "Who Loves You?" picks things back up, with a string sample continually swirling over a hissy disco thump, a funky bassline, and echoed-out vocal samples. "My Last Affair" ends the album, wrapping a Billie Holiday sample in layers of mellow yet shaky keyboards and scratchy guitars. Romare's disjointed sound takes some getting used to, but it's often bewitching, and Love Songs, Pt. 2 is his best effort yet. ~ Paul Simpson
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