A deeply personal album that also captures the fragmented sound of UK dance music.
James's music is hyperactive. Even the album's gentler tracks, like "Scraping My Feet," have skittering drums, which twirl around slow, woozy melodies. There's a constant tension between anxiety and joy that manifests in tracks like "Glitch Bitch," where ballroom-style vocals bark against a placid backdrop, or "Hand Drops," a song inspired by the risk of queer public displays of affection, in which rough basslines scrub against beautiful, floating melodies.
James says that much of For You And I was inspired by her unsteady navigation of queer relationships. The album is made dynamic by this sense of uncertainty. Listen to the seamless way the beat opens up for vocalist Le3 bLACK on "My Future," a graceful moment on an LP that rarely sits still. On "Vowel // Consonant," the beat's fluid glide is interrupted by a harsh scream. Le3 bLACK appears again on "London Ting // Dark As Fuck," a track that points to grime with the added distortion and hardness of today's dance music.
These contrasts are the product of a life and identity that is never fully revealed. James' album is personal but also guarded, revealing only fragments of the artist at a time. Feelings of happiness often come lurking with doubt, and elation arrives at unexpected moments. That's heard on tracks like "Sensual," featuring the vocalist Theo, which echoes a different part of London's musical legacy: broken beat. Over underwater drums and drifting vocals, James creates a landscape that feels unmoored but content, as though making the best of a situation you didn't expect to find yourself in.
With its evocative artwork and a musical style that condenses childhood memories into erratic shifts and blurry allusions to genres past, For You And I is an album steeped in nostalgia and loss, but also hope. "I'm in love, and I wanted to share that in some way," James has said of the album, which reflects the joy you can find in difficult times of change. As old memories fade, new ones are created. This happens on For You And I, where a distinct voice emerges from past generations of UK dance music.
Thu / 10 Oct 2019
01. Glitch Bitch
02. London Ting // Dark As Fuck feat. Le3 bLACK
03. So Scared
04. Hand Drops
05. Sensual feat Theo
06. For You And I
07. My Future feat Le3 bLACK
08. Scraping My Feet
09. Sick 9
10. Vowel // Consonant
11. Words Ears Mouth