It might not be immediately apparent when you first hear Movement, but its creators took a huge risk when they made it. It fits so easily into the post-xx/James Blake/Weeknd world that less discerning listeners and critics could be tempted to write them off as redundant, or worse, another group of young Portishead acolytes a little too hot for the S&M hashtag on Tumblr. Initially I was tempted to brush them off myself. But ultimately there’s too much here that’s rich and telling of the group’s potential to ignore, and the Aussie trio may well end up with a career that rivals their immediate predecessors’ before the year ends.
Movement songs interact with the body more than the mind, though in the right settings—driving in the desert at sunset, say, or getting high at night on the beach—they’re ripe for meditation. Otherwise the goal here seems fairly obvious: To generate a soundtrack for the bedroom, the moments leading up to the bedroom, and the moments just beyond. Or perhaps it’s just the idea of sensuality that Movement’s after. Regardless the trio hits all its marks, and listeners would border on robotic not to feel at least a slight bit of provocation in these songs.
The 4-track EP’s bookends are its strongest points, but the whole affair is elegant. “Like Lust” rolls in slowly before blooming into a melange of deep bass, calm keys, and the roomy air of live drums. The singer Lewis Wade croons in a fashion worthy of D’Angelo or Blake, and he’s content with conveying just one line: “Got you coming over / When this feels like lust.” Elsewhere the band, who was aided in production by Illangelo (The Weeknd), lifts Wade’s voice into the ether, tweaking it until it feels like a soft pillow.
“Ivory” gets on with Holy Other-esque ambient creep and drives harder. The piano stabs here also bring Depeche Mode to mind, but when a slinky, ‘80s-indebted shred solo arrives, it’s clear that Movement aren’t afraid to cross-pollinate. Indeed, where similarly influenced acts might fail at recreating Portishead over and over and over again, Movement nod to soul, dark wave and pop music with a freshness and a maturity that makes me think these three were veteran Minneapolis Sound producers in another life.
“5:57” grimaces on a sad-faced, side-chained synth that erupts into arpeggiations and feathery keys, and again Wade’s strong, quivering voice is deployed less as a lyrical vehicle than ambient texture, which might get old if Movement solely relied on this mode. But the closer “Control You” foregrounds the singer and his pleas once more as dense dub bass, handclaps and the minimal glow of a melancholy pad enforce a feeling of urging and shared loneliness. “Closer than paradise / You stay in my head,” he sings, indicating that perhaps it’s all a dream. What does it matter when the feeling’s this vivid?