Album Review: Retrospective for Love – Random Activities of a Heart [Wormfood Records, 10th March 2017]


Random Activities of a Heart is the debut album of Retrospective for Love, a London-based international neo-soul band active since 2010.

Released on 10th March on Wormfood Records — the same label of Afriquoi, to give you a clue — the much-awaited long player follows two EPs that made them known to the wider public and brought them on a number of stages across the UK and Europe next to talents like Bilal, Jordan Rakei, and Quantic.

And indeed, that is no surprise, for their music has little to envy to such musicians. Their sound is the result of a mix of soul, jazz, hip hop, dub and electronic and, of course, draws inspiration from those who pioneered such a brew (D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, J Dilla), but still brings something different to the table, a 21st century electronic vibe and a wide array of international influences and past experiences that the band members had prior to getting together.

The band was founded in 2012 by Italian MC, vocalist and producer, Davide Shorty, when he moved to London to embark on a new musical journey, after having played with band Combomastas’ for years and having released two solo albums, ‘Piccolo’ (2007) and ‘Shorty VS The Supra Produsa’ (2010). Shorty was also a finalist of the 2015 Italian X Factor and still carries on with his solo activities on the side — only a month prior to the release of Random Activities of a Heart, his Italian album ‘Straniero’ came out.

Nevertheless, that has not hindered the making of the album with Retrospective for Love, who sees him along Parisian co-vocalist, Leslie Philipps, and other like-minded soul-centric musicians. The album is made of twelve tracks all centred around love and the experience of it, “capturing the good times, the bad times and all the confusion in between”. It is loaded with romanticism and nostalgia but, even when the music gets slower and more melancholic, like in ‘Sweet Little Face’, it still remains positive.

Shorty and Philipps have beautiful voices, and one of the best characteristics of the album and of the band itself, is how their voices intertwine, interchange, and overlap across the album, or sometimes in just a song like “Empty Bottles”. Shorty goes from rapping to singing with incredible ease, for instance, see tracks like “My Summertime” or “Mothership”, and Philipps has a voice made for soul.

The music is not secondary to the voices and the lyrics, and one can easily tell that a great amount of time and effort has gone into producing the tracks. However, to remind us once again, there is an instrumental track nestled between the last songs, “In Retrospect…”, in which drums are layered on top of a dreamy electronic melody, creating what could be a perfect soundtrack for the end of a film.

This is music “recommended for those people whose heart is skipping right up before breaking” said the band, no matter if soul is their greatest love or not.

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