Kindness, the solo project of London-based Adam Bainbridge, showcases a certain musical altruism by casting progressive, cohesive collaborators to enhance his sophomore album Otherness. These smart collaborations give context for Bainbridge’s own funky talents and yield a clear-headed, neo-soul pop album that beautifully scouts the genre’s expanse.
Bainbridge’s 2012 debut album explored the depths of disco possibilities, but on Otherness, he’s carefully built a new home in the prime nook of pop music. He taps into elements of ’80s pop, ’70s jazz, ’60s soul, and modern R&B, and his affinity for perfecting these wide-ranging sounds and stitching them together cements his status as a tastemaker for the future of pop.
Album opener and single “World Restart” features Night Slugs goddess Kelela alongside a big band jazz sound, heavy saxophone, and understated bass and electronic drums. Bainbridge lets the featured artist and soulful instrumentation shine in the most tasteful light; halfway through “World Restart,” he steps back and makes room for Kelela’s celestial vocals, showcasing the beautiful capabilities of collaboration done right.
The lyrics, “I felt the world restart/I felt the world begin,” serve as a palate cleanser, while the fiery, soulful jazz sets heightened expectations for the rest of the album.
At the tail end of Otherness, Bainbridge collaborates with longtime musical cohort Devonté Hynes for “Why Don’t You Love Me,” also featuring soulful London songstress Tawiah. Their friendship is omnipresent on the album—hints of Hynes’ project Blood Orange are heard in the niche sound of drowsy keyboards, stirring vocals, rich ’80s flair, and R&B admiration.
“Why Don’t You Love Me” is among the album’s most full-bodied tracks. There’s a seamless emotional switch from the repeated pleas of “Why don’t you love me?” to impassioned, layered vocals, where sad feelings can get comfortably lost in a passion for music.
But, while every track on Otherness falls in the realm of love, “Why Don’t You Love Me” is only one facet of the ever-changing dynamics of relationships. For Bainbridge, love is constantly on the brain, but the feelings under that umbrella jump around on Otherness as honestly as they do in real life. Sultry ballad “With You,” also featuring Kelela, captures lovers’ intimacy, while “This Is Not About Us” lays out the deeper issues of a problematic relationship.
Though Bainbridge plays well with others, he proves he doesn’t need the backup of Hynes, Kelela, or any others; groovy track “This Is Not About Us” most purely captures his solo talents. An emotive piano loop supports whimsical syncopated accents and dancing rhythms. Despite the track’s bold instrumentation, Bainbridge knows when to scale down for the occasional minimalistic harmonized vocal section. These muted moments exhibit the undressed emotion tied to assessing a relationship’s future.
Bainbridge compromises nothing on Otherness, ignoring the unspoken schemas of mainstream pop music in an album that’s bound to influence like-minded experimenters. He displays his affection for the unique talents of his collaborators via his impressively attuned and tasteful ear, celebrating both their and his own otherness.
Kindness – Otherness tracklist:
- “World Restart (feat. Kelela & Ade)”
- “This Is Not About Us”
- “I’ll Be Back”
- “Who Do You Love? (feat. Robyn)”
- “8th Wonder (feat. M.anifest)”
- “With You (feat. Kelela)”
- “For The Young”
- “Why Don’t You Love Me? (feat. Devonté Hynes & Tawiah)”
- “It’ll Be Ok”