NPR logo First Listen: Kindness, 'Otherness'

First Listen: Kindness, 'Otherness'

Kindness' new album, Otherness, comes out Oct. 14. i

Kindness' new album, Otherness, comes out Oct. 14. Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist
Kindness' new album, Otherness, comes out Oct. 14.

Kindness' new album, Otherness, comes out Oct. 14.

Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist
Otherness
<em>Audio for First Listens is no longer available after the album is released.</em>

It takes chutzpah to name your debut album after the seismic Eddie Kendricks song "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind," a seven-minute soul classic with an extended breakdown and build-up that made it one of the earliest disco records. But the lanky Brit Adam Bainbridge had a firm grip on his influences for 2012's World, You Need A Change Of Mind, an album that touched not only on disco, but also on '80s boogie and R&B, Frankie Knuckles-indebted house music, D.C. go-go, and even The Replacements (with a dance remake of "Swingin' Party").

Bainbridge doubles down on that '80s sound for Otherness. "New feelings we begin again / Old endings we begin anew," he sings in "World Restart," which from its compressed drum machine to its honking saxophone sounds like a lost track from 30 years ago. Midway through, he's joined by fast-rising R&B singer Kelela, who sounds like one of the Mary Jane Girls circa 1983's "All Night Long." But the feelings behind the song revive those staid sounds and make them sound refreshed.

From there, Kindness pulls from various earmarks of that era, be it the go-go bells that power "This Is Not About Us" or the elegant piano that flows through "I'll Be Back." Rapper M.anifest joins in for "8th Wonder," name-checking Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" in his verse. And when Kelela returns in "With You," the track at one point peels back to a synthesized breath, a brief homage to Art Of Noise's classic single, "Moments In Love."

Much like his musical compatriot (and fellow Brit) Devonté Hynes did on Blood Orange's sublime Cupid Deluxe, Bainbridge draws on assists from friends. Beyond the album highlights with Kelela, the sputtering backbeat, rubbery slap-bass line and church organ of "Who Do You Love?" gets a big lift from Swedish singer Robyn, who infuses the song with her pop effervescence. Hynes himself lends a hand in "Why Don't You Love Me," which evolves from a heartbreaking ballad to sensuous R&B to great effect. It hints that Kindness might change and advance yet again.

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Otherness

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Album
Otherness
Artist
Kindness
Label
Mom + Pop Music
Released
2014

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