escort - animal nature 

Kenalyn Ang

Amidst this dark and dreary Scottish winter, Escorts’ latest album Animal Nature could very well be that uplifting sparkplug to get you energized: up in the mornings, actually making it to hall mealtimes, and general moving about. With Animal Nature, Eugene Cho, Dan Balis, and Adeline Michéle are the definition of funky fresh, creating a present-day compound of disco dance, R&B, and house. The nine tracks and additional ten remixes on the album are pulsing and pumping, a stream of never ending and increasing energy, a vibe that you cannot help but absorb and emulate as, with a grin on your face, you start to dance, twirl, and jump.

From the start of Body Talk, the first track on the album, the listener is immediately transported to a discotheque, foggy and smoky, popping with spurts of pink and purple, bright white strobes and glitter and confetti of an infinite spectrum of colors. The rising piano complete with vocalist Adeline Michéle’s breathy, echoing coo grabs your attention as you’re inclined to focus on what Balis and Cho are building towards with Animal Nature. Listening to Cho and Balis’ tracks, you feel a mixture of excitement and anticipation, animated and eager to get up and dance. Indeed, as the album progresses, the pace and rhythm of each subsequent track gets quicker, bolder, and/or more warped. The beats are slow, even and more careful in tracks such as BarbariansBody Talk and the title track.

The listener may envision climbing a hill with each passing beat in such songs, much like ‘the hill’ during an indoor cycling workout, complete with the instructor’s motivational barks (Don’t get bitter, get better!). The sparkling undertones at the opening and throughout My Life elicits a mental picture of a double rainbow and sweet, childish items such as Lucky Charms cereal, and the sound is similar to experimental electronic compositions such as Wave Racer’s track Flash Drive. As Michéle’s husky and full-bodied voice continues to thump out of your speakers, you might be reminded of several upbeat songs of the 60s by artists such as Earth Wind and Fire (Boogie Wonderland), Kool and the Gang (Fresh), or Peaches and Herb (Shake Your Groove Thing). There is a rhyme to Escort’s lyrics as well, with alliteration in lines such as ‘pounding to pock, pound to pace” in Barbarians, further contributing to the poetic, creative, carefree, and whimsical nature of the album. A modern day version of disco dance, the album also features a blend of club and musical theatre cultures throughout its entirety, from the track titles through to Michéle’s final belted notes and eruptive cheers in their 9th track, a live performance of Dancer in Brooklyn.

The titles could serve as metonymies of the musical theatre industry, with Actor out of WorkCabaret, and Dancer all alluding to a career in show business and the performing arts, while the tracks more than accommodate for the characteristic glitz, glam, and hullabaloo of such a life. The pulsing and popping, whopping and whamming, squishy, pinging beats and synths embodying such optimism of an entertainer first starting out in the industry. The overall feel and vibe of Escort’s album is lighthearted, fun and spontaneous, and the album is more than a creative collaboration between the new generations of chic, savvy, and daring North American youths. Animal Nature is available as entertainment and joy for listeners of all ages, and the album is perfect for when you want or need to dance any dark, cold, Scottish night away