A full-length has felt like Outboxx's natural next step for a while. In just 18 months, Jacob Martin and Matt Lambert have effortlessly and playfully explored plenty of ground, from ebullient house to serene electro to downbeat sci-fi fare, largely on labels with a Bristol postcode but drawing influence from much further afield. Their innocent yet intoxicating keys have become something of a hallmark, and in times when house is getting more and more fucked up thanks to the likes of L.I.E.S., it's nice to know Outboxx are happy (and able) to make enjoyable, accessible music while remaining original.
This album for Idle Hands feels like a natural compendium of everything Outboxx has done before (though one very much in two halves). The original vocals of Naomi, which made "Jaded" and "Reflections" such joyous anthems, appear repeatedly throughout, but in sufficiently different contexts so as not to become predictable. Sometimes she soars, others she's drowning in echo. Occasionally her tones are more like another instrument than a decipherable human presence.
Authentically lo-fi and analogue but at the same time very precise in its animating melodies and lingering keys, it seems like this LP was written with the sofa in mind as much as the session, not least because the opener is called "Home." It's an inviting one that recalls the pure bliss of Nightmares On Wax, drifting along on plucked bass as a starry sky unfolds above. From there the steps grow more strident. "All The Right Moves" is similarly relaxed, before the golden, levitating house of lead single "Jaded" finally kicks you into dancing action. Outboxx have never been afraid of camp, and the exultant bounce of "Sunshine Mills" proves that resoundingly at the midpoint before the moods and grooves turn more cerebral and introverted in the second half. The arrangements remain spacious and uncluttered, though, with plenty of room for poignant atmospheres to percolate.
Take slow and snaky tracks like "Lost Soul" and "Thrashing Groover." They slither resonantly between the glowing embers of kinetic, dubby jungle and echo the machine soul of Detroit's finest, but remain inimitably Outboxx—swollen with emotion and brewing with ambiance. If this pair's mission is to prove that you don't need to reinvent the wheel in order to make interesting music, then they succeed on every level.