UPDATE: Jai Paul has now confirmed that this is in fact not his debut album and that the tracks were leaked. However, it has been reported that the tracks are by Jai Paul, so you can still enjoy this review!
‘Can I make you fall in love with me?’ croons electro-pop beat-smith Jai Paul over scratchy but rollicking Bhangra enthused melodies. Proudly hailing from Rayners Lane in Harrow, London, this relatively mysterious soloist effectively smacks his fans over the head with his debut album featuring his best known tracks Jasmine and ‘BTSTU’, famously remixed by Drake. Jai Paul’s relationship with his record label is allegedly tense at best with owner of XL Records Richard Russell describing him as “a wizard …baffling” in an interview. The album, which was rumoured to be released by the end of April, was unceremoniously dropped via a modest bandcamp page to the blogosphere to confused amazement and general euphoria of his steadily growing fan-base. In fact, the album is so fresh that Paul didn’t bother titling the tracks.
The first song apparently which may or may not be titled ‘Magic’ according to the radio DJ who has to ask Paul to repeat his name eases you in with a classic bhangra swishing percussion before breaking into a sunny dance anthem, lyrically glorifying the awkwardness of teen flirting. The record also contains a grime influenced cover of Jennifer Paige’s ‘Crush‘ (for all you 90′s pop fans out there) samples from a Harry Potter movie, Mad Men and Gossip Girl. The variable bitrate in most of the tracks creates a raw and underground vibe causing speculation that Paul controversially uploaded the record without the consent of his record label, or that this might not actually be his album. From my perspective this refreshingly unadulterated production sounds more direct, honest and frankly makes the record all the more exciting.
The tracks are short in classic synth-pop style giving the album pace, but also packed with varieties of Jai Paul’s sonic trademarks; sensuous androgynous vocals accompanied by hypnotic snare-claps served on a bed of an aggressive pulsing bass. There are a few songs in the list which blatantly show-off Paul’s outrageous finesse in the studio. Track 6 does so almost offensively; the 30 second track displays that the boy’s got skill.
The penultimate track is easily his best work, the sultry synth, drones and broken beats create an atmospheric journey and his simple but emotive lyricism: “I’ve been searching for another who will last me through this summer night -will you be mine? all night…” prove that Jai Paul is about to change the face of the UK electro-pop scene for the better. Regardless of the debate concerning whether or not Jai Paul released the music with the consent of his record label, I, for one, can shamelessly say that I am smitten with him.
The album is available to listen to and purchase via bandcamp.