Rolling into One
You & Me
“It’s a mad, mad world,” Jordan Rakei repeatedly observes on the opening track of his third studio album, but the expat—born in New Zealand, raised in Australia, now based in Britain—refuses to give in to pessimism. Origin is an expansive and artful collection of electronic pop songs that dives deep into the chaos of contemporary life and examines both fundamental failings and revitalizing moments of wonder. The record’s palette is vivid and wide-ranging: Funk bass and tingling guitar licks underpin “Rolling Into One,” while “Mind’s Eye” mixes slinky Afropop guitar and dreamy electronic melodies. It’s an album about opening things up, whether it be Rakei’s songwriting or the listener’s perceptions. The lineage these songs tap into is a rich one, taking in Stevie Wonder’s masterful 1970s recordings and the soulful laments of Marvin Gaye through to the evocative textures of James Blake. The common thread is humanity, as Rakei sings about finding it in others on “Wildfire” and remembering to value his own on the bewitching “Signs.” It’s ambitious but always coherent.