I know next to nothing about Malawi except that Madonna likes to steal children from there. But now I know one more thing: the country produced one hell of a singer in Esau Mwamwaya. Now take this gifted singer and pair him up with pair of British producers known as Radioclit and throw in a few guest spots from their hipper-than-thou friends like M.I.A. and Ezra from Vampire Weekend and you have one of the coolest sounding albums of the year by a little band modestly called The Very Best.
The Very Best's debut album "The Warm Heart of Africa" is truly a global pop gem that I really don't have the vocabulary to describe. The lush, indigenous instrumentation resounds with giddy abandon, while aspects of electronica, folk and hip-hop are seamlessly intertwined, never sounding anything less than organic and wholly original. I honestly couldn't care less that most of the songs are sung in a language spoken halfway around the world because it is just so damn happy, nearly explosive in it's enthusiasm, proving music is indeed the universal language. It's like a non-stop tropical street party breaking out of your speakers and into your room. And who doesn't like a party?
If not one of the best releases of the year, it certainly is the most forward-thinking in terms of its modern approach toward pop (no modifiers needed) music.
Oh and they get bonus points for sampling Architecture in Helsinki's "Heart It Races" and spinning it on its weird little head.
Listen for yourself:
Warm Heart of Africa - The Very Best ft. Ezra Koenig
Kamphopo - The Very Best