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lv & joshua idehen - Routes
Hyperdub badmen LV collaborate with vocalist Joshua Idehen across an album that has to rank as one of the most substantial yet winningly slinky artist albums to come out of the post-dubstep diaspora. Iden's half-sung, half-spoken lyrical style is probably most mischievous on 'Northern Line', which pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to each stop on the eponymous London tube route ("What do you know about Moorgate? I don't know anything about Moorgate! What do you know about Old Street? Some of the girls there are quite sweet...") LV's production, meanwhile, is just class throughout, muscular, agile and restlessly imaginative: 'I Know' squeezes gully UKF percussion into a crisp garage flex, the sugar-coating of synths and Idehen's ice-cool lyrics begging to be pumped out of your Punto this summer. 'Tough' is a previously unimagined fusion of dubstep and boogie-funk, complete with (!) slap-bass; with their jazzy inflections and phased techno chords, 'Never Tired' and 'Talk Talk' summon turn-of-the-century broken beat, and 'Melt' spatters Mujava-style bleeps across a tuff bedrock of martial funky snares. Euphoric rave interlude 'Primary Colours' clears the decks for the album's dread-infused closing strait: spanning the heartbroken 2-step of 'Deleted Scene' and 'Past Tense', paranoid, world-weary urban reverie 'Murkish Delights' (wherein Idehen equates The X Factor with smack abuse) and concluding with 'Last Night', all gamelan, serotonin-sapped keys and oodles of delay. Often when a production duo calls upon a vocalist to flesh out their sound and widen its appeal, it simply has a diluting effect. But Joshua Idehen doesn't just feel like a tacked-on guest to Routes, it's his album as much as LV's; his contributions are charming, measured and crucial to the album's success. The ambition of Routes is clear - it evidently aspires to rhapsodise and encapsulate all that's good and bad about life in 21st century London. And you know what? It pretty much succeeds. Highly recommended.