- In 2016, Smerz released a promising debut EP called Okey. On it, Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt, who are both from Oslo and now live in Copenhagen, blended r&b vocals with club music styles like house and footwork. There were some flashes of originality, but the record felt partly in the shadow of the duo's inspirations, namely Jessy Lanza and DJ Rashad. Still, there was enough there for the indie giant XL Recordings to sign them, and Have fun, their first EP for the label, sees the duo take a big step forwards.
Have fun is a good deal weirder than the last record, but it's also more absorbing. On tracks like "Worth it" and "Oh my my" the duo find an impressive balance: the beats are ravaged by distortion but the enveloping synth lines soften the attack, creating a sweet spot that could become one of their signatures. "No harm," "Girl 2" and "Have fun" are smooth r&b tracks with sharp teeth. Motzfeldt channels Aaliyah as she sings about wanting to feel something on "No harm," but again, the drums' pointed aggression provides a striking contrast.
The fully unhinged tracks are also convincing. Towards the end of "Half life," it sounds like a fight is breaking out just out of frame. The instrumental "Fitness" is a bleak footwork track with a sweet coda. Perhaps sensing the need for a cool-down, Smerz end the EP with "Bail on me," its straightest track. Over a beat that could have come from a classic SWV cut, Motzfeldt runs with theme of uncertainty she expresses elsewhere on the record: "Do you talk to your friends about me?" It's a moment of self-doubt on an assured release.
A1 Half life
A2 No harm
B1 Oh my my
B2 Girl 2
B3 Have fun
B4 Bail on me