Lion Babe – Begin review

Lion Babe are singer Jil­lian Her­vey and sound­man Lucas Good­man (aka Astro Raw): two 70s-lov­ing New York­ers, who dress like Uniq­lo mod­els you – or at least your art school friends – could hang out with, and they make dance music that’s almost as fine­ly tuned as their threads.

Before you even hear their music, one might be tempt­ed to make a com­par­i­son to Alu­na­George, for obvi­ous sur­face-lev­el rea­sons. But though there’s some jit­ter­i­ness to be found, Lion Babe aren’t tread­ing the same house music revival of the UK duo. Instead, it’s the dis­co and pop of Sis­ter Sledge, A Taste of Hon­ey and Cha­ka Khan that feel like the dis­tance rela­tions of Lion Babe’s chic, 21-cen­tu­ry dance music.

Won­der Woman’, pro­duced by Phar­rell Williams, is a siz­zling procla­ma­tion of female strength set to a taut, trib­al gui­tar beat. ‘Impos­si­ble’ feels like a col­li­sion of hip-shak­ing elec­tron­i­ca and an ear­ly 2000s Sha­la­mar remix, mar­ried to Hervey’s self-assured vocals. There is a def­i­nite, slow jam vibe to Lion Babe’s music which can be felt in ‘Stressed Out!’, ‘Sat­is­fy My Love’ and ‘Jun­gle Lady’. These are tunes you could quite hap­pi­ly bust a move to in a loose-fit­ting out­fit or a fash­ion­able evening get-up.

Begin is a siz­able album that shows off Lion Babe’s musi­cal poten­tial with wide-eyed gus­to. In some ways it’s a clas­sic debut from a tal­ent that is still devel­op­ing its sound: buzzing with ideas, but not quite shap­ing the mix­ture into a fresh and focused album. Still, Daft Punk’s Home­work was prac­ti­cal­ly a demo com­pared to fol­low-up, Dis­cov­ery. Besides, Lion Babe’s debut has its heavy hit­ters, such as ‘Jump Hi (feat. Child­ish Gam­bi­no)’, ‘Treat Me Like Fire’ and the stu­pen­dous 80s ener­gy of ‘Where Do We Go’, that will lure you back like a hun­gry bear to a hon­ey-coat­ed dance floor. Lion Babe’s debut is an ener­getic, fine­ly-tuned pop record that deserves atten­tion. This is just the begin­ning for Her­vey and her glo­ri­ous nat­ur­al curls.

Begin is out now on Outsider/Polydor.

[This review was first pub­lished on, Dec 3, 2016.]

Image: Misha Taylor/PR