'Texas Sun does produce a fun and soothing sound perfect for a cruising road trip.'prettyinprint/flickr.com

The collaboration of psychedelic funk and vintage R&B soul creates a fresh new sound from the exciting duo of Khruangbin and Leon Bridges. While the album’s style and artwork take inspiration from the Velvet Underground’s legendary album Loaded, based on the chaos of a New York boulevard, this EP is set on a serene road trip through the heart of Texas.

Leon Bridges, the Texan ex-dishwasher, who first came to prominence via Soundcloud, is a four-time Grammy nominee and now Grammy winner for Best R&B performance, at only 30.  Bridges’ first album, Coming Home, was released in 2015 and debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, as well as being nominated for two Grammys. After releasing his second album, Good Thing, three years later, he is this time teaming up with the Houston three-piece Khruangbin.

'Texas sun is both tantalising and a little half-baked'

The globetrotting Texan trio's sound is rooted in classic soul and R&B, but is also a fusion of many different cultures from around the world. The band’s debut studio album, The Universe Smiles Upon You, influenced by 60s and 70s south east Asian pop, brought them notoriety for their complex, well drafted smooth sound. More recently, 'Con Todo El Mundo' takes inspiration from Indian music as well as under-discovered funk and soul sounds of the Middle-East.

The collaboration between Bridges and Khruangbin started on a joint North American tour in 2018, but heading into the studio together was far from an obvious step. The new EP feels very different, but with only four songs in 20 minutes, Texas Sun is both tantalising and a little half-baked.

'The title track exemplifies both the cohesion and conflict which exists throughout the record'

The title track Texas Sun exemplifies both the cohesion and conflict which exists throughout the record. Starting with a Hurricane-like Bob Dylan-esque guitar riff, Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer, and drummer Donald Johnson impart some much-needed looseness to Bridges’ vocals, while the singer in turn injects some structure and clear imagery to the bands perhaps otherwise aimless wandering. The collaboration works better on some songs than others, when both parties manage to maintain their own distinctive styles while also creating one seamless sound. That’s certainly the case on Midnight. Bridges’ voice is remarkably smooth, like a gentle caress over the surreal eeriness produced by Khruangbin.

C-Side boasts the most distinctive riff on the album, with Lee’s bassline continuously looping behind an eclectic array of percussion. However, Bridges’ lyrics seem to have run out of ideas and the theme digresses into a romanticisation of his own sexual prowess. The final song Conversion is personally my favourite. When listening to it I found myself transfixed by Bridges’ languid voice and simple but resonating lyrics. By borrowing the words from the hymn At the End, Bridges’ voice felt liberated producing an engaging, unhurried delivery.


Mountain View

Alexandra Savior’s The Archer shows an artist assured of her identity

As an EP Texas Sun does produce a fun and soothing sound perfect for a cruising road trip. The lethargic pace of Texas Sun is a definite contrast with Bridges’ R&B styling, and it is debateable whether he pulls it off as well as his solo work. It is clear in his vocals that he is out of his comfort zone, which sometimes fail to hit the mark. However it is Khruangbin’s rounded and interesting instrumentals which are the highlight of the EP. The visuals they create are eerie and engaging but run the risk of relegating the EP to the label of background music.

Sponsored links

Partner links