These days Ikonika emphasises that fun is central to her work, but there was an edgy mania to her first album, 2010’s Contact, Love, Want, Have. Recorded in a suburban semi on the outskirts of London, those garish 8-bit synths and babbling beats sounded by turns gloriously effervescent and shot through with a certain frustration, anger even.
It’s still not quite a permanent vacation in Ikonika’s world these days: Aerotropolis is nicely punctuated by “Completion V.3” and “Cryo,” two moments of sombre contemplation. But overall, the vibe of Aerotropolis is one of contagious optimism. While her trademark brash, over-exposed synths, snapping snares and bubbling drums remain, Ikonika has decluttered her beats and brought fresh new influences into play. Equal parts ’90s R&B, ’90s garage and classic Ikonika, “Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)” is the most convincing house revivalism you will hear this side of George Fitzgerald. On “Manchego” the fat, electro-funk bounce that has always been a part of Ikonika’s sound is more prominent than ever. That track, a seeming conveyor belt of irrepressible hands-in-the-air hooks, is one of several on Aerotropolis that could cause mayhem at this year’s festivals.
On “Eternal Mode,” “Let A Smile Be (Y)our Umbrella” and “Lights Are Forever,” Ikonika makes like Gui Boratto, revelling in the kind of soaring, shamelessly euphoric melodies that made Chromophobia sonic Prozac. To put it in simple terms: Ikonika has delivered one of 2013’s definitive summer albums. It’s time to get happy.