Album Review: Thandii // A Beat To Make It Better

With a wealth of musical pedigree between them and a pick n mix approach to genre blending; the art of musical mixology runs deep within Thandii.

Graham Godfrey and Jess Berry have been making music together on and off for ten years – a period which has seen the duo evolve from collaborators to romantic partners. So there is little denying that debut album A Beat To Make It Better, a title loosely themed upon the healing powers that these tracks offered the duo throughout the sensory dearth of lockdown, has been a long time coming.

Despite the LP’s long gestation period, and the troubled national landscape in which many of the songs were put together, A Beat To Make It Better revels unashamedly in a sense of freedom. From album opener ‘The End Of The World’, which sounds like a smoky Bond theme composed by French space-pop outfit Air, to the even-lighter-than-air sprawling falsetto of ‘Everything For Love’: these tracks are a means of escape in every sense of the word.

Perhaps the breezy sense of otherness which permeates these compositions were inspired by the fact that Graham and Jess themselves escaped the hustle and bustle of London some years ago. Having moved to Margate and opened their own HaloHalo studio (Halo meaning mixture in Filipino Tagalog, Graham’s mother’s first language), the fresh sea air and rolling coastline is as vital to the album’s tapestry as it’s hypnotic drum sequencing and irresistibly sludgy bass slaps.

This doesn’t mean to say that A Beat To Make It Better is lacking in edge, and contrary to Jess Berry’s delicate vocal delivery, there is real bite throughout the record. ‘Give Me A Smile’ – the album’s only preview prior to release – samples a road worker who catcalled the vocalist when she left the house on an errand during the song’s conception.

It should come as no surprise that Thandii’s debut is a portfolio of accomplished and deft production. Graham Godfrey has been Mercury Prize-winner Michael Kiwanuka‘s percussionist since day one, collaborating with Little Simz, Cleo Sol and Inflo along the way.

SAULT‘s psychedelic, soulful pop rears its head throughout, adorned with a mesmeric approach to drum sampling that seamlessly pairs the classic with the modern; from the golden age of Hollywood, to the warehouses of trip-hop.

Through removing themselves from the chronological timeline of popular music, Thandii have created something timeless. This is the sound of summer sunsets. The sound of rolling those car windows down. The sound of Margate-via-the outer reaches of space.

Author avatar
Daisy Woodley

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