St. Lucia's 'Matter': EW review

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There are certain bands that are seemingly built specifically to prop up the afternoon stages at festivals. That sounds like a back-handed compliment, but it actually requires a very particular set of skills: you have to be attention-grabbing enough to distract people from their gourmet churros but not so intense as to alienate the hungover masses just trying to make it to the evening headliners. Something the kids can dance to helps, though again, anything more intense is likely to make potential revelers think they accidentally wandered into the EDM area and they could be assaulted by a drop at any moment.

St. Lucia, an international polyglot versed in a number of different world music languages, satisfied those criteria on its 2013 debut When the Night, which turned frontman Jean-Philip Grobler into an oft-Shazamed subject on that summer’s festival circuit. His project’s second album turns all those elements up to 11, creating a dance-able batch of sunshine synth jams that radiate with a fundamental warmth. Grobler’s songwriting chops have tightened quite a bit since When the Night (the dynamism of the single “Dancing on Glass” is a new twist), but Matter is all about vibe: the way the drums crack on album-opener “Do You Remember,” the way the disembodied voices blow through the underbrush of the dusty “The Winds of Change,” the lushness of Grobler’s voice (particularly on “Stay”). It’s a durable, malleable passport to hedonism—loud when you want it to be, just funky enough, capable of holding up to headphone scrutiny. Sure, Matter is boozy brunch music, but it’s probably the best brunch record ever made.

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