That Lion Babe ended up being far and above the highlight of the last Disclosure album says a lot about them. Granted it wasn’t a great record by any count, but to outshine the likes of Lorde and The Weeknd without a full record to your name is quite the impressive little feat.
Of course, the same thing happened with AlunaGeorge and White Noise, though the duo of Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman come weighted with a lot more expectation. With major label backing, Pharrell productions, and a Childish Gambino feature, there seems to be this foregone conclusion that they’ve ‘happened’ long before they actually have.
Unlike AlunaGeorge, however, Begin is armed with a sound that seems quite sustainable. Hervey and Goodman come together to bridge the modern and the classic when it comes to R&B-soul, with opener Whole being a quirky tour of Hervey’s range while Goodman’s production quietly surprises (those ‘oo-oohs’, though). It’s not exactly the big bang opening you’d expect from an act with such a fierce name, but the duo seem to be taking a lot of pleasure in taking things slow.
That’s perhaps the only criticism of Begin – despite the double-dutch dexterity of Impossible and the stadium-sized Where Do We Go, Lion Babe don’t have that one tremendous breakthrough moment. Things percolate nicely – Wonder Woman has effortless sass, Satisfy My Love brings old-school class – but it almost feels like they’re holding themselves back a little.
Luckily, Hervey’s charismatic vocals and self-referential winks make it an enjoyable ride. Jungle Lady and Got Body feel like genuine glimpses of the sort of personality you want to be in your girl-squad (“I got body, no matter what I wear”), even if the overall feeling is a bit low-key. Lion Babe certainly get the sentiment of ferocity down, that too with a solid R&B foundation, but they could really do with letting out a proper roar next time.