Jessie Ware, “What’s Your Pleasure?” (PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope)
What is your pleasure? If it’s nostalgia and bopping tunes, then Jessie Ware’s fourth studio album delivers on every level.
Modern pop is turned on its head, looking back and learning from its opulent predecessors: funk, disco, cheesy synths from the ‘80s and electro beats from the ‘90s, creating a chilled out, good time soundtrack. At times a gentle breeze, at times a sensual beck, Ware’s songs and velvety vocals plug into the current need for comfort.
“Ooh La La” goes in for the sexy kill with a dirty bass hailing from the funk era, while “Save a Kiss” drags you on the sweaty, voracious, thumping dance floor. “Spotlight” enters the room quietly with a ballad-like violin in first stanza, but then bursts through the club door with swagger, a short skirt and a glow stick in hand.
The 12 tracks coalesce into a soundtrack of emotion in dance — “The Kill” has a noir synth core, while “Adore You” finds delicate cymbals in tune with the lyrics. “Mirage (Don’t Stop)” reworks parts of the famous Bananarama song “Cruel Summer” into bass-lined dreamy funk, and the title track is a bold disco bop with breathy vocals.
The sultry register is amped by the lyrics, which taken at face value are innocent enough, but taken in context, it’s a cascade of innuendos. Ware is bold, sexy and not afraid to show her moves. School’s in session, and she’s the pleasure principal.