Most single Angelenos will tell you ours is a challenging city for romantic relationships. The sprawl and bad traffic make it difficult to even have a date. Also, there are so many incredibly attractive people here, it's hard to keep someone's interest (or maintain your own). And then, of course, a high percentage of the people who live here are more or less crazy, and thus largely undateable.
But the music coming out of Los Angeles right now — that's another story. Consider the undeniably sexy slow jam stylings of Rhye, Shlohmo, inc. and Miguel, all Los Angeles artists that within the last year released albums that are the sonic equivalents of a roaring fire, a top shelf bottle of wine, a bearskin rug and two iPhones on “do not disturb” mode.
See also: Shlohmo Is Blowing Up Before Our Eyes
And feel free to add to this mix the sexy out-of-town sounds by artists such as How to Dress Well, XXYYXX, and Jai Paul.
Sure, there's always been sexy music, but this new breed of crooners have added sensual and sophisticated soundscapes. That and highly-intelligent lyrics, which make their sounds even hotter.
Take for example the gloriously sensual sounds of Rhye. Their enchanting debut album Woman is laced with lyrical come-ons including “I'm a fool for the shake in your thighs/I'm a fool for the sound in your sighs”. R&B lothario Miguel is happy to proposition listeners to “tell me that that pussy is mine.”
“Bo Peep (Do U Right),” Shlohmo's DTF collaboration with singer Jeremih is based around a synth whirlwind chorus that declares (over and over) “I'm gon do ya, I'm gon do ya, I'm gon do ya right.”
Unlike lots of hard R&B of the past decade or two, this new crop of artists are concerned with captivating, cutting-edge sounds, rather than graphic party jams. The scenarios presented often feel more about actual love making than just getting drunk and forgetting about in the morning.
On all of these albums, Woman, Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream, Shlohmo's slinky Laid Out EP and inc.'s Paisley Park-inspired no world, there exists an amorous ethos beyond just the emotionless thrill of a physical pleasure cruise. Here seems to lie the desire for relationships with staying power, with music and lyrics evoking the appeal of getting to know someone's soul as well as their body.
See also: Miguel Finds His Place
Are we all growing up and graduating out of the hookup culture that has largely sustained us? “The term 'hookup culture,” David Masciotra wrote in a recent piece in The Atlantic, “turns the electrifying mystery of romance — powered by the surge of a smile from a stranger across the room, the heat generated by hands on an unfamiliar set of hips on the dance floor, and the sweet synchronicity of flirtation — into the predictability of an oil change.”
“Pop culture,” he continues, “is in the best position to reframe the romantic approach of teenagers and 20somethings. The shift from the sensuality and sweetness of Smokey Robinson and Motown to the aggression and misogyny of Jay-Z and hip-hop is one of many pop cultural changes indicating how entertainment reinforces and shapes hookup culture.”
These low simmer albums suggest a transition into a period of life in which we slow dance by candlelight. These songs say we want more than intermittent texting, then sexting.
“So much music today is perversely sexualized,” said Rhye's silken-voiced singer Mike Milosh in a recent New York Times article. “It's guys bragging about being hot, about 'getting girls,' getting 'bitches.' It's very tiresome to me. People aren't actually like that…The things that really make people happy, you know, it's intimacy and being loved.”
Rhye's recent show at the Masonic Lodge and their upcoming gig at the El Rey both sold out in a flash on the power of their romantic musical stylings and the feeling of love and intimacy contained therewithin. Shlohmo is rising quick in the IDM world, and critics and R&B afficionados alike adore Miguel. Meanwhile, the new New Jack hipsters seen making out at a recent inc. set were feeling the duo's breathy come ons. In a city where meaningful romance is a tricky thing to cultivate, it sounds like we're at least ready to try.