LA Priest

Inji

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AllMusic Review by

When Late of the Pier dissolved in 2010 -- two years after releasing the cult favorite Fantasy Black Channel -- Sam Eastgate took some time to work on solo experimental music and collaborate with New Zealand dreamweaver Connan Mockasin. Hints of all these projects can be heard in Inji, his full-length debut as LA Priest. Five years in the making, the album swirls together funk, disco, soft rock, dub, and more into soft-focus pop revealing that Eastgate's balance of catchy and challenging has grown defter over the years. He spends a good chunk of Inji reveling in atmospheres, whether on more experimental tracks like the rubbery "Gene Washes with New Arm" and the mosaic of samples that is "Lorry Park" or dramatic set pieces such as the slow-burning Prince homage "Occasion." However, the best moments deliver memorable hooks and melodies along with plenty of mood. "Oino" and "Lady's in Trouble with the Law" feel like perfect blends of chillwave and its spiritual forefather yacht rock, combining them into bittersweet cocktails of heartbreak and nostalgia. Meanwhile, "Party Zute/Learning to Love" goes in a complementary direction, turning chopped-up brass and driving rhythms into liberated, celebratory disco-house that evokes Arthur Russell. Eastgate goes even further into heart-on-sleeve territory on the standout closing track, "Mountain," where he sings "Was I born to love you/Was I born to be with you?" to a melody so pure that it crystallizes longing. Vulnerable, seductive, and expansive, Inji is a promising reintroduction to Eastgate's music that honors his past while moving forward.

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