All those who think dance music is dead haven't been lucky enough to hear this year's...
Jack Smith 2004
The best thing to come out of Nottingham since Brian Clough's all conquering football side of the '70s, are back with a long-player that similarly looks set to dominate.
As with their 24 Hour Psychedelic Freakout, an equally stunning set from their stable mates Crazy Penis earlier this year, this further disproves the myth that dance is dead; once more successfully fusing raw funk influences with pop-melodies, chilled beats and soul instrumentation.
Neon Heights (Tom Bailey, Mandisa Dumezweni, Cal Gibson and Simon White) create music for grown-ups appealing on so many levels. Take the Beatles-esque "Listen To The Music", which sounds like a pastiche of George Harrison and the All Saints' "Never Ever". In fact, the vocal is lifted from an obscure BBC recording from the wonderfully named Fearless Fred's Amazing Animal Band, but is abstract enough to satisfy even the most eclectic of tastes.
The music here is typified by rich instrumentation, folk-like soulful vocals that even Carole King would be proud of, and an instinctively groovy vibe which infuses everything they attach their name to. This is further highlighted on the warm and cosy "Breakfast Table" - a record sung by Mandisa Dumezweni with so much heartfelt passion and emotion that it could melt the polar icecaps!
With the tempo's at best never more than toe-tapping, "Get Down" eases the beats down a notch and sounds surreally like a cross between Kinobe's "Slip Into Something More Comfortable" and James Bond's "You Only Live Twice" theme. The upcoming single, "That's Entertainment" - a wonderfully downbeat take on The Jam's mod standard is an attention grabber for all the right reasons.
A Hot Trip To Heaven is an album you'll instantly reach for after a night out to readjust your equilibrium and make sense of it all. With beats at best languid, musicianship of the highest order, and songs of palatable depth, I can already see the accolades starting to mount. Along with the aforementioned Crazy Penis, Neon Heights are one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the British dance scene since Massive Attack.