Jam City – EFM
British producer Jack Latham, AKA Jam City, is often overlooked for his contributions to the current direction of dance oriented pop music and the sound of the underground. His unique style combines influences from across genres such as grime, R&B, and electronic, and since his lauded 2012 debut Classical Curves, he’s become best known for his boundary-pushing sonic designs. Comparable to the likes of Hudson Mohawke and the PC Music ilk, it’s likely Latham’s five year hiatus at the peak of his rise that has kept him fairly low-key, though his dedicated following is a testament to his innovative approach to production.
Following the electro-punk of his 2020 comeback LP Pillowland, EFM centres Latham once again in clubland. But unlike the jagged techno and house U-turns of Classical Curves, this version of clubland is a lot brighter. Here, Latham looks toward euphoric breakbeats, dreamy 80’s synthpop, and extra sugary bubblegum to imagine something far more amatory and a touch nostalgic. EFM’s visions of the club places focus on the lesser seen bits, or in Latham’s words, “everyone else: the dancers and bouncers and people doing drugs with the mafia.” This lends a warm fuzziness that grounds the record in a sort of familiarity, romanticising the care-free hedonism of youth through poppy melodies and a roster of guest vocalists who deliver these with saucer wide eyes. The euphoria of falling in love for ten minutes on a dancefloor is cooed by Wet on the sparkling rush of LLTB, while tracks like Wild n Sweet key in on the sort of impulsive moments that define finding yourself amongst bodies and strobe lights.
EFM does well to keep things light, viewing escapism as liberation. It’s why mostly all of the album takes shape as shiny, saccharin, if a touch cliché, dance pop. Yet while it’s less outré or edgy than Latham’s best work, this approach is necessary to capture the mood and memories of the unspoken history he’s taking inspiration from. It also makes sense for the album’s home, Diplo’s Mad Decent label. Much like Jam City himself, the subject matter of EFM are the unsung heroes of the dancefloor. “This isn’t rave nostalgia,” Latham says; rather, it’s an ode to the earnestness of every drunken nightclub bathroom encounter ever.
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