The Very Best
Makes A King
Makes A King—the latest collaboration between Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and UK producer Johan Hugo as The Very Best—dives deeper into the pop genre than the duo’s two previous LPs. This sonic shift is due in part to the lack of some of Hugo’s most esoteric production elements and details (which made earlier tracks so inspired) and out-of-place guest appearances (a guy from Vampire Weekend?). Even with the slightly vanilla production, Mwamwaya is definitely in his element, his voice effortlessly transforming from heavily commanding a warm midrange sound to a sweetly harmonious and delicate croon. His range is essential to standout tracks like the minimal, yet melodic “Guju Guju,” the a cappella highlight “Bilimankwhe,” and the pure dance floor treasure “Sweka.” It’s only on the Avicii-style bangers and the more pop-driven broad strokes that the album starts to feel like a new age DJ’s wet dream, than the aural journey that listeners expect from The Very Best.