inc. - No World

The brothers’ debut collection is in parts comforting, enveloping and intriguing.

Label: 4AD

Rating: 7

No World just might be one of the best albums of 2013. This may be a rather bold assertion to be making so early on in the year, but it’s an accurate statement, for the 4AD-signed brothers have pulled together a magical, expressive and roomy debut collection of free-thinking, corporeal after-hours jams, and the result is something of an unforgettable masterpiece.

Essentially, the duo formerly known as Teen Inc. have shortened their name but expanded on their sound. Andrew Aged’s delicate, affecting vocals have found a whole new galaxy of sensual whispers and cathartic outpourings, while his nuanced guitar lines have begun to veer towards chilled-out Ronny Jordan-style acid jazz. Hiding in the background, meanwhile, Daniel once again brings the animated funk bass, subtle yet inventive beats and closely-stitched, voluminous production.

This bare, sparse, calm set-up could easily have become cold and mechanical, but here it allows their songs to develop and build constantly, constructing spacious layer upon layer. It gives their lyrics a sense of poetry, and the whole album a creepy, angelic, almost extraterrestrial quality. Ultimately, it becomes R&B; in parts comforting, enveloping and intriguing. Those Miguel and Frank Ocean albums were perfectly remarkable, but they never felt this warm.

It’s a soundtrack to life based on coming to terms with uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unrelenting surroundings. The solution is to imagine that there is no world, and to lose yourself to contemplation. But the fearful funk of inc. isn’t just summarised as another outlet for meditative reflection - every song on this record showcases unbeatable quirk-pop perfection.