Published Feb 04, 2020The pairing of Khruangbin and Leon Bridges is a fairly easy one to conceptualize. Take the clean aesthetic of Khruangbin's grooves and add the velvety crooning Bridges is known for. All hailing from Texas, this EP is presented as a distinct product of that region. However, what is absent is any of the up-tempo funk that both halves of this marriage have delivered before, as the pace maxes out at 94 bpm. But in this mid-tempo realm, they deliver heartfelt compositions that accurately reflect the strengths of all involved.
Capturing the essence of the U.S.'s second largest state in 20 minutes of music is going to be inherently reductive, but there does exist a clear attestation of place here. The title track leans into a twang more than one might have expected, fitting for the geographical ode. "Midnight" is probably the high point of the project, with a buttery-smooth chord change on the hook, as Bridge's voice dances between gentle melody and staccato wordplay reminiscent of some early Destiny's Child vocals (so still Texas).
"C-Side" is the funkiest entry of the bunch, seemingly giving audible nods to both J Dilla's "African Rhythms" and "Step in the Name of Love." While the latter may be a stretch, the song is perfect for couples coordinating locked-eye dances and eagerly heading home earlier than planned. On the other hand, the closing song, "Conversion," is a dark and moody seven-minute emotional ride through confession and reformation sung in an almost slurred internal monologue.
Texas Sun is a cool side project that is able to exist on its own without the pressures that critical acclaim has brought to both artists. But if you loved Con Todo El Mundo and imagined what they could sound like with a dedicated vocalist, you may be disappointed, as the energy of that album isn't really matched here. But it is nice to hear Leon Bridges over a consistent timbre, making music without pretence. It feels like the start of something. (Dead Oceans)