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Disco/R&B hybrid is revived with hits and misses



This year is unexpectedly graced with a revival of the hybrid R&B/disco once offered by Chic or Earth, Wind & Fire. Houston’s Khruangbin has maintained the highest profile, and their latest, Mordechai (Dead Oceans), goes down particularly chill in tracks like “Time (You and I).” Occasionally, though, the top-shelf elegance seems anachronistic in a plague year. Similarly, British dance queen Jessie Ware perfects all the right disco moves in What’s Your Pleasure? (Virgin EMI), though when media declare this the best album of 2020 so far, it’s like saying Donna Summer made the best music of 1976 — it just ain’t so.

The most fun in funky danceland is by KLLO and Junko Beat. KLLO’s Maybe We Could (Ghostly International) relies on the haunting voice of Chloe Kaul of Melbourne, Australia, while her cousin Simon Lam provides precise beats. New Orleans ensemble Junko Beat launches its second album Satirifunk (Drumparade Records) with the full-funk “Control,” diverting into psychedelia and minor-key angst before returning to the beat. KLLO and Junko Beat both make the genre more interesting by putting fun above disco-as-art-form.

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