Alan Bainbridge, the luscious-locked man behind Kindness, has released his second studio album. Otherness, released on 13th October, succeeds his debut album World, You Need a Change of Mind that was released in March 2012. With Otherness, Bainbridge brings us a meticulously constructed hybrid of experimental soul, in an album that tells a narrative of unrequited love.
Otherness marks a slight shift in genre from Bainbridge’s first album. Although both are experimental, World, You Need a Change of Mind covers a wider range of musical platforms and focuses strongly on electronic and synth compositions. With his second album, Bainbridge is more concerned with the soul genre, which brings a bluesy level to his electronic undertones.
The album opens with ‘World Restart’, featuring vocals from Ade and Kelele. Bainbridge introduces us to the album with a track that falls nicely into two halves. With the first half of the track inviting listeners to focus entirely on instruments and vocals, and the shift after a pause at the midway point to a more upbeat and almost dance feel, Bainbridge lays down the two elements working strongly together throughout the rest of Otherness.
Bainbridge’s use of lyrics and quite blatant track titles allow Otherness to tell a story. With ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ seeming to provide an answer to the third track of the album, ‘Who Do You Love?’ a relatable journey of tensions in a relationship and its demise is created. We are, however, left with the reassuring note that ‘It’ll Be Ok’ with the concluding track of the album.
Otherness is interesting to look at in terms of its collaborations, with the most well-known of these being Swedish recording artist Robyn whose vocals feature on ‘Who Do You Love?’. The collaborations on the album allow for a diversion from Bainbridge’s vocals and lift Otherness to a more diverse platform.
Award winning Ghanian rapper M.anifest may seem like an unusual addition to ‘8th Wonder’, with the track covering a strange range from Bainbridge’s own vocals, to M.anifest’s section of the track, to an entirely instrumental ending. On the surface, it would seem that the track is too jarring and in fact the three sections don’t work together at all- but if you give it a chance, what Bainbridge achieves is to unify separate layers of music in a track that exemplifies the diversity of the album.
Others involved with Otherness include Tawaih and Devonté Hynes (formally known as Blood Orange), who features on the soundtrack of Gia Coppola’s film Palo Alto.
It’s great to find a second album that strives to be just as experimental as the debut. Bainbridge’s diversity is made apparent in the way that he continues to link seemingly incongruent elements together to create an album that, although precise in its composition, cannot placed in a rigid genre.
Otherness is a great feat of experiment and diversity, but at the hands of this it can also be a little too jarring at times.
Otherness is out now via Female Energy records.