Jessie Ware Takes a Glamorous Victory Lap on 'That! Feels Good!'

BY Sydney BrasilPublished Apr 28, 2023

A handful of albums came out at exactly the right time in 2020. Though the overplayed hand of the "pandemic album" can be seldom smacked away, exceptions can be made for the dancefloor-readiness of its early days. Enter What's Your Pleasure? a shimmering record that helped bring the disco revival — and Jessie Ware — their second winds. With her opus under her belt, she continues her joyride on That! Feels Good!, this time with a more playful approach to her tongue-in-cheek sensuality.

Where its predecessor had a flinty filthiness to it, That! Feels Good! is more concerned with sex as self-love. "Pleasure is a right!" Ware circles over in the titular track, before calling herself a "lover, freak and mother" in "Pearls." For this, she's not as concerned with playing a character. While she's less mysterious for it, the tradeoff is an all-encompassing warmth that's expressed in the shift in disco informing the record.

With an unwavering groove, luscious vocals and affable horns courtesy of KOKOROKO, Ware dials up funk as an impression of joy. The rich culture of '70s nightlife is the foundational stone of an open door, welcoming percussion that taps Brazilian sonic landscapes and cascades into the moody R&B of "Lightning." Every bell and whistle lands without a hitch — an impressive feat for a set of songs ample in turnarounds. 

That! Feels Good! is unapologetic in its pop sensibilities, full of hooks that lightly tease and lyrics that keep themselves around. Ware's airy yet soulful delivery of these words, coos and moans is part of what makes her so captivating, and acts as a direct line to how much fun she's having. Even when it's entirely on the nose, it's pulled off. On "Shake the Bottle," she details a slew of past lovers, including Matthew — owner of a pickup truck, who "sure could OOH!" This knack for silliness lends itself to the amour propre that drapes over the album; Ware doesn't take herself too seriously, but she'll still burnish every detail of her craft.

While both effortless, nostalgic dance records, That! Feels Good! isn't exactly the sequel to What's Your Pleasure? Sure, Ware has found her stride and is running with it, but her pair of renaissance records are sisters rather than twins. In any case, the latter's arrival means that Ware has a second chance to shine in the mirrorball and receive the flowers she was meant to in the flesh three years ago.

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