In 'What's Your Pleasure?', you don't come to club, club come to you! Brilliant in its infectious, sensual energy and escapist club mood, Jessie Ware dabbles in 80s nostalgia for a record so tight and groovy, even the most stubborn of listeners may find themselves bobbing their heads a bit. As for fans, be sure to bring some extra water.
There seems to be a general misconception that pop music, the ones played for those drunk nights at the club, is reserved only for the younger, teen to late 20s crowd. A lot of it stems from our perception of pop and the clubroom as a whole. When you hear clubs and parties, just what do you picture in your mind? A group of college kids, or your 80-year-old grandma? Me or SiberianBreaks? It's a no-brainer. We describe most pop with traits like "youthful", "expressive", or "restless" and it's hard to imagine a dance-pop record without. Newer, younger singers eventually replace the older generation, and many middle-aged pop stars struggle to capture that same energy and excitement of their heyday on newer endeavours for their newer audience. With age, it becomes progressively more difficult to capture that youthful vibrance and flair of the dancefloor.
I bring this up since Jessie Ware is in her mid-30s, an age typically considered "above average" and may seem shocking considering this album's content, but also serves to back my point. Ware is married with two children, this alone would keep anyone from the night clubs and disco parties. And yet, no other pop artist recently that's delved into such a sound has captured the aesthetic of the dancefloor quite as well, let alone so intensely, beautifully, and with so much precision.
'What's Your Pleasure?' is stunning and sharp in its delivery, most of its songs filled to the brim with extravagance in its addictive hooks and lovely rhythms. The album itself is trimmed to its essential bits, packed and layered to fulfill the youthful excitement and concise enough to be short and sweet. Ware is not embarking on new territory with the music per se, she is staying keen and adding to her strengths. As such, she seems virtually unmatched in her confidence, marked by the flirtatious playfulness and sensual eloquence of songs like 'Ooh La La', 'Soul Control', and 'In Your Eyes', to name a few. In all this bursting passion and intensity though, Ware knows to keep a balance to avoid turning her hypnotic, alluring pop tunes into loud and obnoxious party anthems that seem to be the Achilles' heel of far too many similar pop records.
The current wave of 80s nu-disco revival in recent pop is beginning to get tiring at this point and seems trite, but Ware mainly manages to keep things charming. The repetitive nature of the album does leave a bit more to be desired by the last third, but that's beside the point. What's more important lies in all of the album's soaring qualities, and just how well it captures the pleasure of the dancefloor and all its emotional beats — the temporary feeling of freedom, the longing for companionship, affection, sudden heartbreak, waking up at the side of the road with a beer stain and all your clothes swapped for a homeless man's. Ok, maybe not that last part.
All in all, one of the year's most essential pop records.
FAV TRACKS: Spotlight, What's Your Pleasure?, Ooh La La, Soul Control, In Your Eyes, Step Into My Life
LEAST FAV TRACK: Mirage (Don't Stop)