Kindness

Otherness

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After the release of his first album under the name Kindness, Adam Bainbridge took the advice of that record's title and had a change of mind. Or at least a big change in the way he operated. After a few years writing downer disco jams and working with legendary French producer Philip Zdar, Bainbridge took a slight left turn into downer R&B ballads and a more collaborative style with his second album Otherness. Right away with "World Restart," the horn-filled, stutter-step ballad, he brings in Kelela and Ade to sing lead vocals, and instead of channeling the gliding, disco-fed melancholy of Arthur Russell, Bainbridge tries to conjure up something grittier, sadder, and looser. The rest of the album continues along this track with guests like Devonte Hynes, rapper M.anifest, Kelela again, and Robyn (on the very oddly mixed "Who Do You Love?") helping Kindness sound much less like a one-man project and more like a bummed-out collective. Also, more like all the other singers and bands mining the same seam of downtempo alternative R&B, which is kind of a problem. One, because, apart from a couple tracks ("With You" and the Robyn song) that show a little bit of inventive spirit, others do it much better. Two, because Kindness already had a sound that was working just fine. Sure, the debut wasn't all sunshine and lollipops, but Bainbridge made sure to throw in enough uptempo jams to counteract all the inward-looking, melancholy moods the bulk of the album sought to create. Here there's only one track with any forward motion, and it's the overly slick and one-dimensional "I'll Be Back." Otherwise, Otherness is mostly murky and overcooked ballads, without hooks or much emotional impact. Zdar's presence is surely missed, but even he couldn't have sprinkled enough glitter over the album to make it anything less than a snooze. It's always a bummer when an obviously talented artist makes such a glaring misstep; the only hope is that they can right the ship by the time the sessions for the next album come along. So, unless second-rate alternative R&B without much personality is what's required, better to wait until next time with Kindness.

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