words: Michael Brooks
On last year’s wonderful LVNDR TWN EP, Jelani Sei happily married together jazz and emo in a unique and refreshing way. Their most recent effort “Rep. Maxine Waters” is as unshakable and dauntless as the song’s namesake; six minutes of socially charged future-soul that’s furiously unrelenting. There’s a vibrancy and elasticity here that can’t be fabricated, only a tight knit collective of immensely talented musicians feeding off one another’s energy could make something this complex and esoteric sound so intelligible and organic. The band settles into each new groove like a chameleon changing colors—Jelani Sei aren’t just playing in the pocket, they’ve got a ten year residency there. The chasm of Kayana Guity’s vocals, which are placate and almost dreamlike, rattle against underlying themes of injustice and inequality for something invigorating and immersive. Towards the end of the song she sings “social justice, social justice romance/social justice, social justice slow dance” which perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the whole track. “Rep. Maxine Waters” is a track you can turn up to, or you can be radically moved by it. But why not just do both?