Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
Much like the Metric session posted two days ago, a time crunch and gnarly, congestive traffic forced The Very Best into a shorter than normal session, but they brought along with them the canned voice of Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend - who wasn't within a thousand miles of Austin at the time - and worked through two of the sunniest songs on their debut, "Warm Heart of Africa." The collaboration is two parts the London-based DJ/electronica duo of Radioclit and one part African singer Esau Mwamwava of Lilongwe, Malawi, and the results are some kind of honeymoon or vacation away from everything that we're saddled with in our daily lives. It's a big, wide as a bridge smile shining through a dark night and never letting down or fading away, just holding that position and those crinkled and bent laugh lines. Heaven knows that there's plenty to be depressed about. Just take your pick as sadness is like fish in a barrel, but The Very Best, coming out of a country that's always had more than its fair share of plights and an abundance of human tragedy, takes the higher road in its tone and chooses to help the spirit mend itself rather than going into the murkiness of what it likely feels like inside. Mwamwava sings in Chichewa, the native language of Malawi and it rolls like a good alcoholic beverage wrapped up in a psychedelic reggae chaser, or vice versa, coming out strong and melodic, with the arrangement of Radioclit's elongating and shortening scatterings of synths and programmed beats lying below everything like a bed of white rice. "Warm Heart of Africa," the title track, takes us into an afternoon that feels like the kind that burning up the East Coast this week and last, taking with it every last bit of patience and cool and nothing like the afternoon that this was taped for us, on the most unseasonable day that Texas has ever seen in March. It takes us to a side street in the big city where the adults are moving as little as possible, just sitting out on their stoops or around the entrance to the corner deli, keeping a halfway open eye on the babies. The babies, laughing and squealing away, are splashing in the middle of the street - effectively shut down because no one wants to leave an air conditioner or fan if they've got them - with the fire hydrant unplugged by the department. It's a romp that's full of hot thoughts and playful inflections and it feels as if what should happen next is that the weather breaks, the muggy skies open up and they bring relief to everyone below - the dancing continues unabated.