Published Jun 30, 2020The conversation surrounding Jessie Ware's luxurious What's Your Pleasure? has been a tug of war between reinvention and return to form — is it a bold new frontier or a homecoming to the dance music of her debut? The answer, it turns out, is both and neither.
Yes, What's Your Pleasure? sounds more like 2012's Devotion than anything she's made since, but it really doesn't sound much like Devotion at all. And yes, the record's lush disco is technically a fresh direction for Ware, but it's one that she embodies so completely it feels comfortable, even familiar, as if she's finally become the artist we'd all imagined her to be. After a decade making music and three (mostly successful) full-length records, What's Your Pleasure? sounds, mostly, like the arrival of Jessie Ware.
The hushed acoustics and adult-contempo pop of 2017's highly personal Glasshouse have been swept away in a torrent of plush strings, throbbing synths and popping bass. What's Your Pleasure? grooves with limitless energy – even its slower, quieter moments, like the groove of "Adore You" or the pulsing "In Your Eyes," are moved by a barely contained passion.
Ware has never sounded more loose and confident — the icy diva that presided over much of Devotion is gone. Despite the flirtatious, non-specific lyrics — Ware said she wanted to make an album for people to have sex to — there's a better sense of her personality and humour this time around. Lyrics that could come across boilerplate and uninspired instead feel cheeky and knowing. Ware is here to have fun, and she'd like you to join her.
Still, no amount of giddy camp could distract from the warmth and malleability of Ware's voice — even the most obvious come-ons and winking asides sound filled with genuine longing. The highlights are plentiful, from the Robyn-esque "Save a Kiss" to the sweating title track or the dance proclamation of "Mirage (Don't Stop)". However, all these immaculate grooves feel like set-up once you arrive at "Remember Where You Are."
A gleaming slice of epic soul, the closing track conjures the magic of Minnie Riperton in its enormous backing vocals and light-footed melody, an apocalyptic love song that sounds as though the sun is breaking through the end-times smog. It's five and a half minutes of pure fantasy, a timeless piece of music and a fitting curtain call to what might just be Ware's best record yet. (Interscope)