EP REVIEW: abs – ‘abs’


Sometimes when I get music to review I get a whole load of information about the artist or band, sometimes I don’t; either is fine by the way. abs let the music do the talking, and boy is it good.

As you probably know I like music that’s hard to put into a niche and abs’ music is a fascinating mix of soul, jazzy neo-soul and pop. Let’s explore.

Opening the EP is ‘Fool Around’. It’s soul-y but it majors in heavy groove jazz. And we are not talking lightweight easy listening jazz here but hard groove jazz. Horns stab, organ comes at you in beautiful jerks. And the vocals are a joy; not just the lead vocal line but the added backing voices. So addictive is this track that I found myself listening to it on repeat to a degree that my neighbours must have found irritating to an extreme.

‘Access Restricted’ is, unexpectedly, hard urban electro. Now, I have to admit that this isn’t really my thing. But two listens in and it clicked. It’s the soundscape of sounds. Odd vocal effects, the sparse hard synth sounds and the odd actions of the sweetest pop combine into something that’s so beyond pop it’s experimental.

And now to the on so smooth ‘Blossom’. The question I find myself asking is, is this pop or neo-soul, or some mixture of the two? And I answer. I don’t care in the least because this song makes me swoon. It’s beautiful, really beautiful. It’s basically simple; sparse music and a gentle vocal but simple this good is so hard to do. On a technical level I have to admire the way abs has refused the temptation to layer this track in lush layers of sound. It’s sparseness let’s every single sound in the track shine, and highlights the understated vocals. Truly a gorgeous song.

‘Haven’ is pure neo-soul. It’s up there with the best I have heard; and I’ve heard a lot. The fabulous thing is that abs has taken that framework and added in some unexpected sounds. There is a totally unexpected toy organ sound, an odd but compelling catch in the sound. Lovely in a word.

I hear, as I said, a lot of pop/soul-y/neo-soul/jazzy music, it’s kind of difficult not to. For something to stand out it has to have something extra; abs has that. It adds the unexpected, it stretches the envelope; but not in a jarring way, it’s added fabulous, to coin a phrase.

This EP has it all – beauty, music that is frankly astounding, the experimental. I didn’t expect to love all the tracks on it, but I’ve been won over. This my friends is fantastic, go listen now.

Stream/download https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/abs10/abs

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.