Body Language has been unfairly crowned by the press as the next big thing in electronic music.
The group earned rave reviews for its early tour stops and tracks. It has featured in movies such as Black Swan, and stars such as Toro y Moi have produced the group’s music.
The group has been remixed by Matt & Kim, drummed for Matthew Dear and written tracks for Passion Pit. The group certainly doesn’t lack for indie cred, although that seems to be the only thing they have in spades. Body Language’s sound, on both its second EP and first album (confusingly, both named Social Studies) as well as its new EP Grammar, seems torn between paths, confused about where to go and what it’s trying to do.
Before this release, Body Language talked about ditching the disco that made it a darling of the press to go for an R&B-focused sound. But the group must have postponed this move, because Grammar is more of a continuation of its previous sound than any sort of change. It’s the same kind of mindless fun, but this time around it feels more mindless than fun.
The EP does not start out on the best foot. “The First” is filled with soaring harmonies and synths hissing in the background. A woodblock beat, one of the only analog instruments in the mix, disappears after the first chorus, and hearing the same thing looped over and over doesn’t match standard ideas of groundbreaking disco and the song.
“Lose My Head” sounds like somebody trying very hard to make a mindless dance track. The song’s clearly focused on a dance groove with a chorus, but offers nothing else — including proper lyrics or verses. That’s not to say it’s bad; in fact, it’s probably the highlight of the EP. The beat goes on and on while the title is half-sung, half-shrieked over the hypnotizing synth stylings. Unlike the music of other disco artists, including Matthew Dear, there isn’t much below the surface. There’s one verse, one chorus and it’s repeated ad nauseum. Body Language was probably not going for something with depth, and it’s still a funky dance song that’s sure to pack the floors, but the track disappoints if you go in expecting anything more.
The final track takes Body Language to the R&B sound they talked up before the release. “I’m a Mess” is probably more self-descriptive than the band meant it to be. It features the singer settling into a groove while assuring the listener “You don’t need to worry / Without you I’m a mess.” The slow jam certainly sets a loving mood, and features more emotion in those two lines than the rest of the EP, but it feels like too little, too late. It’s a mediocre foray into the R&B world to cap off an EP that promised much more.
The EP puts Body Language in a category of underachievers in the indie world: a group unable to live up to its own hype. Instead of seeing an artist evolve as it’s claiming to, Body Language puts out two more similar tracks and another that feels like a half-effort. Grammar feels like steps backward for the group, and if it does go through their genre switch as planned, it’s going to have to rebuild the praise it received for its disco tunes. The future might still be bright for Body Language, but a bit harder.