It seems a bit odd to be reviewing the debut LP from Brooklyn-based Jean-Philip Grobler (a.k.a St Lucia) in December. In part that's because 'When The Night' was released in the USA back in October (and is yet to see UK release), but mostly it's because this vibrant and colourful tropical pop is so far removed from the cold Christmas weather. Just look at that cover art for starters.
Right from the off, the breezy opening of first track The Night Comes Again transports us to some sun-soaked island beneath an azure sky. And once we're there, the album settles into its 80s groove full of pop hooks, neon textures and saxophone solos - think Toto meets M83. It's a sound that's exemplified by lead single Elevate, with its chiming synths, dance beats and deep bass grooves - if your feet aren't at least toe-tapping whilst you're listening then you must be soulless.
Grobler originates from South Africa and these roots are certainly apparent in the calypso beat of Wait For Love, as well as the overall bright, positive disposition of the whole album. The sense of joy continues with Call Me Up (a seemingly innocuous booty call) and the dance break of We Got It Wrong, right through to frenzied closing track When The Night. All Eyes On You slows things down with some oceanic effects reminiscent of All Saints' Pure Shores, whilst September is a pulsating, mesmeric dance track that fans of Friendly Fires will definitely appreciate. Only with Too Close do things take a darker turn (though its echoing outro ends the song on a playful note), but the album overall is a thoroughly buoyant and euphoric affair.
Grobler has offered a thrilling pop album with consistently high quality songs that makes for one of the most accomplished debuts of the year - something you'd expect from someone who released two EPs last year and has remixed the likes of Passion Pit, Foster The People and Charli XCX. For anyone craving some winter sun this is your ticket - fingers crossed we get a UK release in time for next summer so we can enjoy the album's warm glow whilst catching some rays.
* All Eyes On You
* Too Close
Listen: 'When The Night' is available now in the USA, UK release coming soon - listen in full on the St. Lucia website.