Here's one sure sign that contemporary electronic dance music is getting better: It's slowing down. The amped-up tempos and overeager productions of the late-EDM era were the last refuge of insecure, overcompensating producers.
That's why "Comfort," the languid and melancholy full-length debut from the young London producer Maya Jane Coles, feels so assured. Its dozen tracks are a model of restraint, poise and pacing that does the real job of dance music — creating a world to get lost in.
The album's standout house tracks, like "Burning Bright" and "Everything," should place her next to Disclosure and Seth Troxler as outsiders with crossover potential (she's already remixed the xx, a perfect stylistic fit). But Coles' productions have an eerie, late-night chill that soaks into whatever micro-style she's trying on, from the indie-trip-hop of "Blame" to the arty noise taunts of "Wait for You."
Occasional R&B slow jams such as "When I'm in Love" feel a little forced. But her tonal consistency and confidence in her sounds make "Comfort" a rare animal in dance music. It's a real album in a singles-driven genre, and a record certainly worth slowing down and savoring.
I / Am / Me
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