Canadian producer Jacques Greene has something of a formula.
Almost every track of his combines sleek, smooth synths and house beats with the fragmented vocals of an R&B diva. Greene will often take a single line and put it to work twisting slowly around the beat in a hypnotic fashion. The fragments of vocals we hear remind me of that cartoon cliché where a character is plagued by dialogue from a previous scene and we hear it repeating, as if in their head. It’s as if Jacques Greene has been haunted by one lyric from a Ciara song, much beloved by his former lover. Having been unable to extinguish the lyric from his mind, he attempts to exorcise his demon by placing it on a house beat, alleviating his misery in the raptures of the dancefloor.
Because of this combination of dancefloor frivolity and R&B sadness, his tracks manage to strike an unusual emotion – a wistful feeling of vague melancholy in a place where people might expect music to be quite literally ecstatic. Greene‘s combination of sadness and nostalgia for turn-of-the-century R&B has probably sent more clubbers running for Drake‘s “Marvin’s Room” style drunk-dials than any other producers working right now. This combination of dance beats and repeated R&B samples is basically its own sub-genre (house and blues, perhaps?). Aside from Greene‘s tracks like “Another Girl” and “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want”, there have been other such sad bangers, like Blawan‘s “Getting Me Down” and John Talabot‘s “So Will Be Now”, that have used this formula wonderfully.
Without being actively bad, Jacques Greene‘s debut album “Feel Infinite” contains precisely zero feelings of infinity.
On “Feel Infinite”, Jacques Greene now seems unable to replicate the heights of his previous tracks. He’s never exactly been the most prolific artist, but you’d think in the six years since “Another Girl” he’d have a serious collection of album-worthy tracks. Unfortunately, what we’re left with is a wishy-washy house that leaves no lasting imprint on the mind. This is really how Greene‘s career has been going since ‘Another Girl’. The occasional track of his has managed to provide fleeting interest, but little to distinguish it from the terabytes of decent enough dance music that flow from SoundCloud every second. Obviously, much of this music can be thrilling in a club situation as the DJ, in the role of the alchemist, manages to transform base metal SoundCloud fodder into pure gold. A great dance album, though, should be able to be interesting both on headphones and on the floor.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/311540889″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
The most interesting track on the album is ‘True’, the collaboration with How To Dress Well. It ends up being the only track on the album that has any kind of memorable hooks to it. How To Dress Well‘s R. Kelly impression adds some focus to the track that is surely missing from others. When he hits high notes, his voice dissolves into autotune in a truly great use of the effect. The way ‘True’ flows from the previous track ‘To Say’ is also worthy of mention for its low-key dexterity. Beyond this track, it’s fairly hard to pull significant moments from the album. ‘Afterglow’ is probably the only other track where anything actually seems to happen, but it’s nothing unique (I can imagine this track working well at the club, though). Jacques Greene is clearly talented as a producer. These tracks are all coated in skilfully shiny surfaces, but the effect is of depthless synth-porn. Tracks like the ‘I Won’t Jude’ or ‘Dundas Collapse’ are basically just pleasant synth patches searching for a song.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/289051750″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Jacques Greene‘s career has been pretty disappointing, really. After the transcendent majesty of ‘Another Girl’, I had high hopes for him. I remember seeing a particularly bland DJ set of his a few years ago and chalking it down to him having an off day, or it being the wrong time of day for his music. I was in denial. I see it now. “Feel Infinite” contains precisely zero feelings of infinity.