Maya Jane Coles is a young, UK-based house-music producer whose uniqueness is defined by the fact that she typically writes, plays, mixes, and engineers all of her tracks herself — and the fact that she is a she. It's hardly a secret that there are very few well-known women in electronic music. But Coles racked up accolades in 2010 for the emotive, eclectic tracks on her eponymous EP. She exerted even more control for her debut full-length, Comfort, having sung on two tracks, drawn the cover art, and released it on her own label.
There's a strong femininity to Comfort. With two exceptions, all of the album's guest vocalists are women who tackle themes of vulnerability, love, dependence, uncertainty, and repressed feelings over Coles' slow beats. It's a refreshing break from mainstream dance music, which favors male aggression and frenetic, relentlessly pounding beats. The album opens with the title track, whose rippling minor chord has an eerie, almost ominous quality to it. Coles maintains that dark sensibility throughout the album with heavy use of ambient noise, even as kittenish vocals on "Burning Bright" and "Stranger" veer them into more pop-like territory. As a house album, Comfort succeeds in that its hypnotic rhythms are easy to get lost in, but when Coles slows it down on "When I'm in Love" and "Wait for You," the album loses some of its momentum.
But, ultimately, this is a sensual album that would be best consumed at night, with the lights down low. (I/AM/ME)