On 2012′s Playin’ Me, Cooly G‘s first full-length, the South London dance producer ventured into the vocal booth and narrated her sultry, soft-synth instrumentals with confessional, complicated lyrics about a romantic entanglement. Hyperdub, the maverick British electronic label, was a perfect home for the project, an undeclared safe space for adventurous, intellectual female producers like Laurel Halo and Ikonika, and subsequently Fatima Al Qadiri and Jessy Lanza.
Wait ‘Til Night, Cooly G’s second LP, combines the dancefloor energy of her pre-Playin’ Me EPs and singles, with the melodic, dreamy, intimate direction of her album-oriented work. Unexpected metres and rhythms — or, more appropriately, riddims — buck up against cloudy synths and poppy guitar lines. On “Like a Woman Should,” a dense, groaning bass line surreptitiously creates heat, which sparks into an open flame on the following track, “Your Sex,” a yowling electric guitar line channeling the big-hair sensuality of an ’80s rock ballad.
These 12 songs are mini-fantasias. Cooly G strings them together with her imperfect vocals, which are sometimes sly and Rihanna-confident (“Dancing,” “So Deep”) and sometimes, at her most vulnerable, a bit obscured (“Want,” “Fuck with You”). She’s at her best somewhere in between, when singing into her range and when the rub of her accent comes through the shimmering din. “Now you got me, know you’re the top boy now,” she smirks on “I Like.”
Cooly G came of musical age by subtly sifting the sounds of the British black underground, and inhabiting the contemporary voice of a million sampled soul divas. In that way, Cooly G reminds me of Pursuit Grooves, a Toronto-based producer/vocalist who creates lifted, funky dance music by mining Timbaland and American soul. They’re Transatlantic, temporal analogs. Two people might be too small for a movement, but Cooly G’s on the right path.