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Language, the exquisite second full-length from periodic Solange and Blood Orange collaborator Bryndon Cook, is undoubtedly a time machine, but it's up for debate whether the up and coming group is sending us back into the past or catapulting us into the future. On the one hand, listeners will identify hints of the 70s (the funk grooves of a group like Parliament), the 80s (the smooth sensuality of acts like Prince and Janet Jackson), and the 90s (the soulful R&B of an artist like D'Angelo). On the other hand, though, the tracks here are imbued with a futurism one might associate with The Fifth Element--a sort of urban energy where flying cars and pneumatic tubes criss-cross busily around a sleek metropolis. Whichever distinction seems more apt, there is no denying the creative genius at work here.

At times Language thrives as the life of the party. In the album's title track, a livewire of a guitar line ripples through a song that moonwalks with electric energy. "Hands Off" stutter-steps forward with manic excitement. "Lost Boys" is, as its name suggests, irresistibly youthful, splashed with hip hop to top off its swirling, kaleidoscopic explosiveness. However, the album has just as much to offer when it's understated and controlled, radiating the vibe of a hip Los Angeles poolside party without any of the pretense. "Can I Come Over?" is arguably the album's show-stopper, pulsing with disco spirit and crescendoing to an unexpected sonic fever pitch that somehow never loses its cool. When Starchild gets even slower on tracks like "Mood," "Doubts," and "Boys Choir," you'll feel like you're slow-dancing on an asteroid belt in the vastness of space. At fourteen tracks Language is relatively lengthy, but it uses its time wisely, putting the full range of the artist on display.

Though Starchild & The New Romantic fits in well among other R&B fusion acts that are having a peak moment right now, they are in no way a late entry that gets lost in the pack. They are, instead, a new spin on old favorites, and seemingly impossible not to like. Language is a truly fantastic record, and one that belongs in the conversation of the year's best.