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People often forget that music has a concept of dialect. Whilst much of pop music has homogenised and genre has been co-opted and appropriated throughout time, some acts still retain a sense of locality. Often this is due to the vocalist's dialect coming through, but it's also communicated through the music itself - influences from the local club scene perhaps, ambient textures that seem unmistakably inspired by a city or town. Islands, the second collaboration between LV & Josh Idehen, is one of those records, projecting an image of London life through beats, rhymes and ideas.

Chief among those ideas is the sense of oneself being a island; alone in a bustling metropolis, wandering the streets looking for love or just trying to get home on a night bus. For anyone who's lived in a city, particularly The Big Smoke, the sense of place conjured by Islands is instantly recognisable and relatable. Whilst the beats from production duo LV go some way to capturing this atmosphere, what seals the deal (at least initially) are Josh Idehen's vocals.

Part street poet, part rapper, Idehen's vocals are more easily comparable to artists like Ghostpoet and Kate Tempest than any simple rap or hip-hop categorisation. Throughout Islands Idehen presents songs almost like vignettes, allowing even the shortest track to carry weight. 'Obsessed', which at just 56 seconds is the second shortest track on the record, is probably the most emotionally wrought track on here as Idehen half-sings an ode to what we assume is a lost lover. All of this is set against melancholic synthesiser chords and an erratic series of chimes that gives room for Idehen to emote. Despite its brevity it doesn't feel rushed, instead offering a deep insight into a moment of weakness before our focus moves elsewhere.

'Run Down' sees Idehen detailing a moment in the life of someone living in a "run down part of a run down borough", as they become aware of their isolation. Here Idehen's lyrics veer more towards the evocative than the direct - you could easily interpret this song as about someone who enjoys the solitude and watching the sun go down, as much as about fear of loneliness. Idehen's delivery, mumbling and occasionally manipulated by LV, offers no clues. Neither does the backing track which avoids melancholy and optimism, pitching down the middle with a cold, echoing synth lead and heavy bass.

As you'd expect from LV, a duo who've released material on Hyperdub, the beats on Islands recall London-based electronic and dance styles, with particular influence from future garage, grime and glitch. Whilst there is an overall cohesion to the sounds on the record, there's still a fair amount of variation to be found. Opener 'New Pen' with its punches and swells of bass, cross-stick percussion and pitch shifted backing vocals is a bright, hopefully opening - a whole world away from the darker tone and grime influence of 'Imminent'. That track, which opens with a high, sharp synth and ominous bass surges charts a tale of overheard conversations and police tape in Hackney. Musically and lyrically, it's one of the album's tensest moments.

It's followed by 'Talk Trim', which opens with Idehen essentially scatting over live percussion before taking a detour through a track veering more towards a baseline-influenced take on electronica with a glitch-hop break two-thirds of the way through. Elsewhere, there are tracks like 'Shake' that, with it's music box style lead, recalls the cool electronica of Four Tet, or footwork influences on tracks like 'Double Decker Back Seat'. This is an album rich in variation.

Underpinning all of this is LV's frankly astonishing production. Despite the range of styles everything holds together incredibly well, with sharp, interesting arrangements. The bass is deep and at times seems almost physical as it pulses out of speakers and headphones. The synths meanwhile are crisp, often shimmering with optimism to counteract the darker beats. Tracks like 'Double Decker Back Seat' and 'Shake' treat Idehen's vocals as another instrument, manipulating and twisting his words into new forms, creating beats from words. This is where the album references LV & Josh Idehen's first collaborative record Routes.

Some may be disappointed that the album has moved more towards a lyrical focus, but Idehen's rhymes are so smart, so evocative, that they really help to elevate this album above other dance records. The nature of the collaboration means that the beats and rhymes also work well together. The two bounce off one another and there's a sense that Idehen is not simply a guest vocalist, but a driving force behind the trio's output - there's none of the sterility that sometimes seeps into other dance rap collaborations. Islands is truly singular work, emotionally affecting, funky, infectious and philosophical. If it was played in a club, you'd likely lose your shit to the more up-tempo tracks, and if you happened to be alone, simply listening to the gorgeous, melancholic closing track 'Island' will find you slipping into another world.

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