Jai Paul: “He”

Jai Paul’s enigmatic electronic soul flourishes on low-key unpredictability. He pulls the rug out from under you not with overblown key changes or forceful drops, but through small-scale, finely tuned production details and vocal processing that he drizzles over his music like clarified butter. “He,” one of two new songs from the reticent artist, is a strutting demonstration of his quiet method of upending expectations. Riding on elliptical electric guitar licks and slick, widescreen synths, “He” is wiry and intoxicating, a languid exhalation of Paul’s distinctly future-minded funk-R&B.

Where the swooning first track in the double B-side release, “Do You Love Her Now,” is rooted in a roiling quiet-storm foundation, “He” is sharper and more immediate, with an intro of plucked guitar and stomping drums that seem to nod to Prince, one of Paul’s obvious lodestars. But the song easily escapes imitation: Paul’s chanted “he”s form a levitating birdsong behind him, while his lovelorn falsetto flits in and out of the foreground like a glitching computer trying to program its own choir. Just when a big chorus ought to arrive, Paul centers on those chants, stirring up thick, tensile synths to goad you to the closest dancefloor. “He” relishes in the deliberate back-and-forth and culminates in a song that finds Paul at his absolute slinkiest, delaying gratification as only he knows how.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/jai-paul-he/

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