4/5 From Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder to Katy B and Benga, gender roles have stayed reasonably fixed in the history of electronic music. Girls supply the vocals and the star quality, while guys are the musical pioneers and nerdish slaves to technology, mostly found chained to a mixing desk. It’s not necessarily a sinister arrangement; it’s just that few have the talent to fulfil both roles.
Enter Cooly G. She’s a south London mum, a behavioural consultant to young people and a semi-pro footballer. She’s also one of the UK bass scene’s most raw talents, blessed not only with the ability to sing but also to produce deep house, grime and post-dubstep and fuse these styles in fascinating ways.
After a prolific run of EPs and self-released tracks, this debut album succeeds where most dance LPs fail – by avoiding endless bangers and instead using her studio skills and tender vocals to craft real songs with real bite. Of these, the hazy and beat-less soul of ‘Come into My Room’ and ‘Sunshine’ is just stunning, while ‘Up in My Head’ is a kaleidoscopic R&B masterpiece. With any luck, Playin’ Me may go down as one of the year’s highlights. Oliver Keens