The past 12 months have seen a noticeable surge in the number of UK garage-inspired releases. So far, most of it has come from outlets explicitly dedicated to UKG reissues, new material modeled after the classics or clever hybrids of garage and minimal. But there are signs that a taste for shuffle has started to permeate labels that have a broader stylistic scope—for instance, the latest record from Violet's label Naive, ELLES' summers_of_love EP.
The London newcomer's first release, 2019's emo_ecstasy_everything on Naive's sub-label Naivety, was mostly ambient. summers_of_love has similar melancholic soundscaping, but pins baleful textures to swung, syncopated rhythms. The result is a fresh, distinct and personal fusion of 2-step drums and Reese basslines with her own tender vocals and sepia-toned piano parts. That is, with the exception of "end of the nite," a swaying, Italo-influenced and poppy house groove infused with field recordings and ELLES' own bittersweet singing. There are other unlikely combinations here that keep things interesting, like the touches of acid that weave through grime strings on "put on our classics" or the pitched-down vocal that intones the word "feminism" over a groaning Reese on "WRTRGRER4A."
The tension between her vulnerable melodic themes and her playful, boisterous energy of the bump 'n' flex rhythms would be more effective if the drums were tougher. summers_of_love doesn't provide perfect replicas of decades-old subgenres, but it does demonstrate that ELLES has an evocative voice as a songwriter and an ambitious, intriguing vision.
03. put on our classics
04. end of the nite