Dusted Reviews

Cooly G - Playin’ Me

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Cooly G

Album: Playin’ Me

Label: Hyperdub

Review date: Aug. 14, 2012

Hyperdub has long been on the cusp of the underground and a broader relevance, one that Kode9’s label seems to be defining as it goes along — perhaps, one imagines, like Warp did in the 1990s. Following two well-loved 12"s for the label, Cooly G’s debut album Playin’ Me is a good candidate for cementing Hyperdub’s increasingly major, yet insular feel. This isn’t a concession, however; it’s easily the most personal thing the label’s released.

The Cooly G that emerges on Playin’ Me is a lover, with all the precariousness that implies. Burial and Kode9 make tunes caked in the grit of London’s peripheries, but Cooly G suggests the interpersonal transactions that take place against this backdrop, a different kind of economic decay. She’s a boss of the telling, mundane, elliptical detail, the kind that’s tough to convey on paper. Take the immense relatability and tenuousness of a line like "He said ‘Are you hungry’ / I said ‘Yeah,’" from "He Said I Said"; it looks meaningless outside of the song’s bruised millennial lovers rock. She’s not a great lyricist by any technical measure, but the spontaneity and soulfulness of her vocals resonate because it’s grounded in how she feels rather than how she thinks we’ll take it. Hence her delightful obliviousness to the fact that covering Coldplay’s "Trouble" could raise some eyebrows; hence her ability to completely pull it off. "It was just a vibes thing," she says gnomically.

The vocal-led "Up in My Head" pointed the way to Playin’ Me from back in 2010, but Cooly had figured out this new feel by the time of 2011’s "Landscapes" single. The song, which also appears on this album, is sonically and emotionally denser than her tougher early productions, dropping the club underpinnings and establishing her as the protagonist as well as the producer. But while it’s shaped more like a pop song — Cooly’s vocal melody even briefly conjures the thought of an Everything but the Girl tune gone Funky — very few instruments are untouched by some form of delay, giving onto dubby depth and a spring-loaded responsiveness. Meanwhile, "It’s Serious" forgoes vocals for a harder, rhythmically dense workout that still makes room for the mirage-like synth melodies that give the album its dreamy feel.

It’s clear Cooly G isn’t relying on personality to hold things together. But it’s ultimately her skill at painting from experience, conveying "vibes from the heart" without concern for generic conventions, that makes Playin’ Me unique and gives it a human appeal beyond its prescribed scene.

By Brandon Bussolini

Read More

View all articles by Brandon Bussolini

Find out more about Hyperdub

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.