Do you ever hear a song and automatically imagine yourself driving with all the windows down, singing it at the top of your lungs? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m from L.A.-—I don’t know if New York kids imagine this scenario—but after hearing St. Lucia’s new album, When the Night, I could so easily see myself driving in my beat-up Honda CRV with all the windows down and St. Lucia on full blast.
This is the kind of music that makes you want to dance. The music is synthy, atmospheric electronic pop that is practically impossible to listen to without at least the slightest head bobbing to the beat.
St. Lucia is actually Jean-Philip Grobler, a young man from Johannesburg, South Africa who began his musical career in the Drakensberg Boys Choir School. Grobler traveled internationally, performing with his choir, but once he discovered his love for pop music, he moved to England to study music for three years in Liverpool. After traveling to New York City, Grobler began working on his own style, separate from the specifically choral or pop genre. This music is what would eventually become the self-titled debut album that catapulted him into the music world.
“I just let go and let all of what is me just flow out without being self-conscious of the results,” Grobler said to music blog Man of the Cloth in July. “You know, in the beginning you imagine that people are going to judge you for doing that. And I just couldn’t help it that what was coming out of me was this joyful, happy (yet still melancholic) music, and in a lot of circles that’s not considered ‘cool.’”
One distinct characteristic of this album’s music is Grobler’s combination of lush synth with African chants. The third song of the album, “Elevate,” primarily consists of African chanting, smothered by the upbeat and uplifting synth melody. These contrasting sounds produce some of the happiest music I have ever heard; it will make you want to stand up, clap your hands high above your head, and sing as loud as you can.
Opening the album is “The Way You Remember Me,” a song with soaring vocals and a blaring saxophone seeping in throughout the song. The songs “All Eyes On You,” and “Call on Me,” in addition, are characterized by St. Lucia’s unbelievably high falsetto and smooth saxophone, reminiscent of ’80s pop anthems.
Having never heard of St. Lucia before now, I am officially a convert to his music. He is able to find a perfect mix between sentimentality and fun, upbeat music that provokes a strong emotional response when listening. The music makes you want to both dance and ponder life. I have always been a fan of M83, Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, and other music that fit into a similar genre as St. Lucia, and I am more than happy to add him to my collection.
“When I’m making the music, it’s about the feeling the music evokes,” Grobler said to Man of Cloth. “That feeling, to me, is the meeting point between happy and sad, melancholy and ecstasy.”
The entire album consists of melodies reminiscent of a combination of M83, Passion Pit, and the Eurythmics. I dare anyone who listens to it to try hir hardest not to dance, not to bob hir head, not to sing; good luck to you. It’s vintage pop, old fashioned electronic music, and undeniable beauty.