LV – ‘Routes’ (Keysound Recordings)

London has been the muse for many a tune in the past. And rightly so, there are so many layers to our capital city; a schizophrenic mess of darkness and light that never fails to surprise you. What’s not to be inspired by?

LV have chosen to explore their relationship with the city further with the help of vocalist Joshua Idehen, who also appeared on their previous nod to 21st century London, the ’38 EP’ and in doing so, established an exciting and well balanced collaboration that couldn’t merely conclude with just one release. And so, ‘Routes’ was born.

The album is a fantastic mix of vintage-style house and garage thrown together with a few nods to the more modern elements of dubstep and electronica. You can hear sound bytes of El-B and Todd Edwards throughout; that light, percussive 2-step together with Idehen’s cut up vocals fill the album with nostalgia, and yet ‘Routes’ still sounds inconceivably fresh.

Opener ‘I know’ hits you with Idehen’s vocal looped over jittery 2-step percussion that begs to be played at full volume, whilst follower ‘Tough’ is slightly richer, with funk inspired synths weaving their way through a myriad of claps and bass. The highlight of the first quarter of ‘Routes’ has to be ‘Northern Line’ – a cheeky tribute to the infamous London tube line – that has Idehen shouting, “What ya know about Moorgate? I don’t know anything about Moorgate!” and then continuing to name check each station in turn.

LV capture subtle traces of broken beat and 90’s garage on ‘Never Tired’ and ‘Talk Talk’ whilst ‘Melt’ channels UK funky in its purest form. There’s such a delicate balance between LV’s production and Idehen’s use of vocal on the album that you can hardly tell when one ends and the other begins. There isn’t any kind of ‘one sided’ feeling to ‘Routes’ even when Idehen’s vocals are used sparingly, which gives the album a certain coherence rarely found on collaborative productions.

As you leave the effervescent audio of the first half of the album, rave interval ‘Primary Colours’ acts as a palette cleanser to prepare for the more sombre tones to follow: ‘Deleted Scene’ provides the downtime whilst Idehen’s dark poetry on ‘Past Tense’ and ‘Murkish Delights’ is an ominous narration against LV’s minor keys and echoing percussion.

Like London itself, ‘Routes’ is a busy, cosmopolitan creation that explores the various extremities of its own environment. LV never once make a spectacle of Idehen’s appearance on ‘Routes’ but use his contribution to create an album that is both light-hearted and essential. Highly recommended.

Lucinda Runham

‘Routes’ is out now on Keysound Recordings.