New band of the day – No 977: AlunaGeorge

This London duo use R&B tropes and techniques to create pop music bright enough to light up the charts

Hometown: London.

The lineup: Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (music).

The background: People – critics, because critics are people, too – are always banging on about how great such-and-such a band is because they're so influential. But what about those artists who don't exert any influence because their music is so sui generis it's impossible to incorporate elements of it, let alone copy it wholesale? You could argue, could you not, that the greatest musicians are the uninfluential ones? No? Surely their lack of impact on the wider scene is a sign of their distinctiveness and idiosyncratic quality.

Anyway, we say all of this because we were wondering the other day why so few, if any, bands have picked up the baton laid down by the Dirty Projectors with Stillness Is the Move, one of the songs of the century so far. That idea of an "indie" band using the tropes and techniques of R&B, the stuttering rhythms and itchy glitchiness of 2step, in tandem with a proper pop song bright enough to light up the charts – you'd think bands would have been queuing up to do that.

Well, AlunaGeorge – two characters, one called Aluna and the other, mysteriously, called George – are doing just that. Their forthcoming single, We Are Chosen, reminds us of some of our absolute favourite things of the last decade or so: UK garage at its most gossamer and gorgeous, when it featured seemingly pitch-shifted female voices; the US R&B of Ciara and Cassie; and Stillness Is the Move. George Reid may be a novice when it comes to production but he has achieved just the right sound, with just the right mix of the commercial and the cut-up, his style acquired, presumably, from hours analysing everything from Aaliyah's work with Timbaland to Hudson Mohawke and Chris Clark's recordings for Warp.

As for Aluna Francis's voice, you'll either love it or you'll want to block up your ears with Marmite when you hear it. We can't get enough of it, but then we will never tire of squeaky-voiced girls who seem to have OD'd on helium just as the nation apparently has an endless capacity to enjoy big-voiced belters. We can hardly believe our luck, but Francis's vocal heroes would appear to be, not Shirley Bassey and Lulu, but Noosha Fox, Clare Grogan, Therese Bazaar of Dollar, and any number of cute garage and R&B girls where every atom of passion is removed to leave just the shiny patina of "soul".

We Are Chosen, then. If James Blake and Jamie Woon are blubstep – sorrowful singer-songwriter fare allied to dubstep rhythms – then this is popstep. It is the most rhythmically tricksy number in their ever-growing catalogue and is definitely the direction to pursue, if you're reading this, Mr Reid and Ms Francis. The other track on their single, Analyser, is pure and simple linear 4/4 house pop that, without that fabulous voice, would be quite ordinary. But We Are Chosen is amazing, and we like nothing better than to be amazed. In fact, for your homework, AlunaGeorge, go and repeat We Are Chosen a dozen times, at which point you will have produced the winner of next year's Guardian First Album award.

The buzz: "The fusion of George's clear-cut production style with Aluna's sweet contagious vocal makes this stand out as an enduring pop song with mass appeal" –

The truth: Well, it hasn't endured because it's not been released yet, but we imagine it will.

Most likely to: Sound sweet like chocolate.

Least likely to: Sound sour like Marmite.

What to buy: Analyser/We Are Chosen is released on 18 April.

File next to: Dirty Projectors, Sweet Female Attitude, Clare Grogan, Noosha Fox.


Thursday's new band: Maverick Sabre.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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