If the satirical quip “everyone’s a DJ” is true, then it also stands to reason that it’s just a matter of time before everyone’s an EDM producer too. Though a career in nightlife, like any other “creative” job, can be often a nauseating farce of self-congratulation, there are still times when the process leads to vibrant and inspired work. Case in point: London-based dance producer Romare, who started his career as a cut-and-paste renderer of archived blues, gospel, and soul. On his first three releases, Romare navigated stacks of these samples, embellishing them with deep, lurching beats to create moody, downtempo sounds. On November’s Love Songs: Part Two, Romare’s second full-length, he expands both conceptually (“every nook and cranny of the romantic impulse,” reads the album’s copy) and compositionally, leaning less on borrowed music in favor of building tracks with an array of live instruments.
One of Romare’s most common construction methods is to anchor melodies in pronounced vocal samples. On “All Night,” it’s a raspy blues wail that has the same immediacy as Moby circa Play. On “Je T’aime” and “Come Close to Me,” the melodies have the same ebb and flow as a murmuring Four Tet track. On his previous efforts, Romare used vocal melodies to guide and inform the remaining rhythmic elements. On tracks like “Honey” and “New Love,” however, Romare uses vocals unpredictably, as a foil for the rhythms rather than a lead. This subtle compositional growth, and the songs that result, make Love Songs: Part Two feel refreshingly expansive.
Conceptually, Romare’s exploration of love yields a few different interpretations on the theme. On opener “Who To Love?”, he leaves things open-ended; on “Who Loves You?” he scratches at uncertainty, loneliness, and anxiety, fusing urgent bass thumps with sinister string layers. On “Come Close to Me,” an album standout and possibly Romare’s finest track to date, he offers an enveloping atmosphere of keyboards and swelling synth loops, equally seductive and elegant, as a way of conjuring the idea of intimacy.
More often than not, Part Two strikes bass-charged electronic dance gold. Love Songs: Part Two is an endearing and rewarding milestone on Romare’s journey as an artist, bringing theme and composition into harmony. If we must abide another DJ-turned-producer (and we must), a bid of good faith to Romare feels safe.