At times it seems difficult to exactly determine what engenders a “city” album—you just know it when you hear it, something so sophisticated, cool, streetwise. It’s the audible version of belonging somewhere, but it takes its time in getting there. City albums are the perfect companions to your own little journeys through environments you know down to the detail, like to the earnest corner store that’s respected your patronage over the years. With the right music, and maybe that proper type smoke beforehand, you’ll always find new things in the prosaic.
The West London duo Babeheaven—consisting of singer Nancy Anderson and producer-instrumentalist Jaime Travis—concocts a fetching rainy day mélange of indie-lo-fi-sounding productions on their debut album Home For Now. These are mostly breakbeat-laden songs, 45 minutes and 14 tunes, filled up with moody designs, alternative-soul vocals, hazy atmospherics, and tepid-running beats. It’s an Ocean’s Eleven-type score, rooted in Pete-Rock-meets-Portishead sorcery. And I’m here for it.
The duo has music in their genes. Anderson’s father is a commercial jingle writer, and Travis’ dad is the founder of Rough Trade Records. So there’s that. When they figured out that they were mutually serious and became simpatico in the creative sense, a singular course was formed beginning with the blissed-out 2016 single “Friday Sky.” Their all-inclusive strains, from mid-’90s trip-hop to surveillance espionage moody chill, have amassed over 15 million Spotify streams, with support from all sorts of kickback music playlists. The duo earned headliner sell-out shows at Jazz Cafe and support slots for the likes of Nilüfer Yanya and such—but enough with the business.
Home For Now (such a fitting title) is an ultra-low-key composed debut. Extending previous mixtape knowhow, the duo outstretched that bedroom wave of artists this time.
No ironic jokey biz here, just earnest chill out Shangri-la.
It’s a day-trippers’ manual mang, traveling without moving. Sounds of nature line up along city noise, tweeting birds mashed with car alarms, giving Anderson just a terse enough canvas for her to lightly air out wisdom learned through forced growth. That’s never an easy task, but she doesn’t come off bitter. Leaning on the mid-’90s arrangements, giving off an ultramodern twist, cooing “what’s inside your heart” on track “In My Arms,” these arrangements are ready and primed for mobility. They affix themselves as the perfect sonic companion for meandering about Sixth and Clement on the rainiest day, a trip that seems novel when Anderson is distilling humility in your pod-ear. Bril.