Love Deluxe

Love Deluxe

100 Best Albums Sade’s revelatory fourth album, Love Deluxe is an exercise in pure immersion; the air and textures so thick and inky, the mere act of listening to it feels like slowly swimming through a body of water. From the opening bassline of the immortal opening track “No Ordinary Love,” Love Deluxe’s gravitational pull is apparent and immediate, and its nine songs represent rich-sounding music that, in less capable hands, would risk becoming totally overwhelming. But the members of this British quartet, led by the incomparable Sade Adu, is as locked in with precision on Love Deluxe as they were throughout their early years; the resulting album, released in 1992, is a record that radiates with iridescent beauty even when it sounds massive and heavy. The weight that Love Deluxe carries seemingly created a crater around the band itself, as Sade underwent the first of multiple extended hiatuses not long after its release—affording listeners plenty of time to fully meld with the album’s gorgeous, endless-seeming tendrils of sound. Just as Sade’s smash debut Diamond Life arrived at the peak of quiet storm’s popularity in the mid-1980s, the slinky dub and drum machines of Love Deluxe coincided with trip-hop’s emergence in the early 1990s, sharing ostensible shelf space and musical DNA with Massive Attack’s monumental 1991 debut Blue Lines. Whereas trip-hop is regularly associated with haze and obfuscation, however, Sade sounds as clear as ever on Love Deluxe, from the gentle-yet-cavernous “I Couldn’t Love You More,” which plumbs seemingly impossible levels of lushness, to the closing instrumental “Mermaid,” which recalls the Twin Peaks theme. Adu has fittingly described Love Deluxe as a reflection of a search for the unattainable. “The idea is that it’s one of the few luxury things that you can’t buy,” she told one interviewer. “You can buy any kind of love, but you can’t get love deluxe.”

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