Signed to Hyperdub in the spring of '09 after distributing a series of CD-only releases through Soho's Blackmarket Records, Merissa Campbell soon became the face of the emerging UK funky scene. Three years on, having delivered a consistent yet sparse run of singles through Steve Goodman's closely watched stable, comes the south Londoner's delayed debut album.
Playin Me, recorded entirely at her home studio, plays out a theme of lover's ruin, while the percussive density of her garage roots largely remains. "He Said I Said" gets proceedings underway in a rising scale of jazzy pulses and derailed soul, before the strings-heavy "What This World Needs Now" follows on to evoke comparisons to the silkier aspects of Goldie's Timeless. With the notable quality of this sultry opus beginning to resonate, "Good Times" arrives in timely fashion to provide not only the album's defining moment, but also perhaps Campbell's most complete song to date.
At the midway point, "Trouble" creates a puzzling sensation of déjà vu before the penny finally drops that it's a cover of Coldplay's mawkish stadium anthem. Along with the overly seductive "Sunshine," these inclusions mark Playin Me's only serious flaws. Recovering soon enough, instrumentals "What Airtime," "It's Serious" (featuring Karizma) and "Is It Gone" combine for a beat-down of future-jungle, with 'Up In My Head" ceremoniously completing the package in fine style.
Every year at least one dance music album rises up from the underground to platforms of wider-reaching exposure. Taking into consideration Campbell's endorsements to date from the mainstream press and the overall quality on offer here, it's not too hard to envisage Playin Me being one of 2012's crossover successes.
Tracklist: Cooly G - Playin Me 01. He Said I Said
02. What This World Needs Now
03. Come Into My Room
04. Landscapes feat. Sinbad
05. Good Times
08. Playin Me
10. What Airtime
11. It's Serious feat. Karizma
12. Is It Gone
13. Up in My Head