Some things are just meant to be together. Peanut butter and jam, oil and vinegar, ham and cheese are all classic examples. And one day, the same will said about Khruangbin and Leon Bridges, assuming the two build upon their sultry, sensual affair, Texas Sun.
Like maple syrup and bacon, the Texas-based musical artists are perfectly complementary, although at first sight this may not be immediately obvious. For more than a decade, Khruangbin have established themselves as one of music’s great psychedelic innovators. Drawing inspiration from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and, of course, classic rock, the trio have redefined the genre in turning into an exotic sonic cocktail. Bridges, meanwhile, has been one of retro-soul’s and -R&B’s rebirth. He has revitalized the music of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green by making it modern yet still smooth. Despite their differences, the two share a few similarities – music that is cool to the ears, intoxicating in its experience, and enduring in its impact. All three characteristics are on display on Texas Sun.
The EP sits at just four tracks, which is the biggest disappointment since we don’t get to see what the collaboration can really achieve. The four songs, however, are still worth the investment in time. Opening the record is the trippy, country-psychedelic vibes of “Texas Sun”. Khruangbin create a soundscape that reflects the dusty, deserts of SW Texas. Bridges, though, still finds romance in these arid plateaus, as he describes a trip with his partner into the unending horizon.
“Midnight” drips with the smooth R&B of the ’70s and ’90s. The track’s atmosphere echoes Barry White while Bridges’ approach is Usher and Craig David-like. It’s a song, in other words, made to be heard in a dimly lit, intimate room. The EP finds another gear with the smokey, funky, and sexy “C-Side”. Seventies grooves radiate from Khruangbin’s deliver (Lee’s shallow bass line is intoxicating), and they provide the perfect canvas for Bridges’ tale of two people meeting for the first time. As Bridges says, “Somebody is going to fall in love tonight.”
The record comes to a close with “Conversion”, which tracks in just under 7 minutes. Whereas the first three songs were sultry in their nature, “Conversion” is a melodic, introspective tune that is part psychedelic and part gospel-soul. Bridges sings as a solitary man who has suffered pain but has finally found redemption. Who has found hope after years being in the dark. And hopefully Khruangbin and Bridges won’t leave us in the dark for long when they embark on a second collaboration.
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