Starchild's Brandon Cook is wonderfully unashamed about his influences: Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson. This impeccably produced pop record could easily be an 80s gem. It stays true to the style but carries important, topical messages of marginalisation and the difficulties of growing up within institutionalised adversity.
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It's still a sore point between me and some of my most trusted discerning music friends that I don't rate Blood Orange's 'Freetown Sound'. Too weak, too limp, too derivative. The odd good track I'll concede. I have a similar feeling about this debut from sometime Blood Orange member Bryndon Cook as Starchild & the New Romantic as this is waaaay more slick and is influenced by the time when the 80s really started to water itself down.
It's been worrying me for awhile that we are reaching the point that todays soul tinged starlets are beginning to wade into the period of music known as Janet Jackson but there's one influence bigger than any others on this record and that is Prince. It's almost too influenced by Prince. Tracks like 'Only If U Knew' (oh come on!) are just so in awe of the man that it's a bit embarrassing for all concerned...I mean it's a good parody but....
It's not Bryndon Cook's fault though that he's chosen an era of music that I generally dislike. The album is slick, colourful and has the same kind of funk-lite grooves that littered the later parts of the 80s. It's an intoxicating, hi energy workout but the spectre of Prince looms so large that the album really is just a well produced facsimile. We need to start using influences of the past to move forward. Starchild & The New Romantic is another artist content to wallow in oh too familiar sounds. If lite-as-air R&B electro and funk is your thing there's loads of it here - a veritable smorgasbord of vintage beats and falsetto squeals. But any real soul is filtered out into breezy inconsequential r&b lite.
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