Album Review: India Jordan – Watch Out! EP

[Ninja Tune; 2021]

India Jordan makes music for a non-stop world. Their breakthrough EP, last year’s For You, was perfect for a busy dancefloor, but tonally and emotionally felt more like the moments after you leave the club, still floating on air as you head back home to keep the fuel burning until there’s nothing left. It was appropriate that it came out in the early stages of lockdown, just when we realised clubbing was going to be on a more extended hiatus than expected, as it made an ideal soundtrack to nights in yearning for nights out. Their follow up, Watch Out!, is again perfectly in tune with the world as it starts to re-open, as it’s much more of a roofless record, ready to be pumped out into the fresh open air.

It doesn’t take any time at all for this to become clear, as the opening “Only Said Enough” comes barreling out of the speakers on souped-up techno beats and a siren call of a sample. As the song plays, it’s hard not to envision a packed dancefloor eating out of the DJ’s hands as they tease with a few breakdowns and tension-building rises that add to the song’s bewitching propulsion. Jordan’s description of Watch Out! as “a homage to both physical and conceptual movement” becomes clear, not just because of the energy of the beats, but in the way they also layer in a glacial synth to contrast with it, leaving an impression you’re on a high speed train zooming past stationary people, making the speed feel even greater in relativity. It’s a trick that Jordan employs time and again, but with so many different textures, samples and beat patterns that it never feels like a repeat. 

“Watch Out!” follows and is unabashed in its desire to get people up and moving, employing a drum’n’bass adjacent beat with bouncing samples and air raid sirens. Again it’s the kind of song that makes you see visions of arms flailing wildly above a sweaty mass of bodies – something that is now so close to reality you can practically taste the stale air as you listen.

Jordan’s creativity comes to the fore in less obvious ways on the EP’s centrepiece “You Can’t Expect The Cars To Stop If You Haven’t Pressed The Button”, taking us into a busy traffic crossing by utilising a chopped and re-distributed sample of the beeping ‘go’ signal. They construct a rattling, tactile beat that seems to rotate around the bleeping ‘melody’ like heavy machinery passing on either side of a tiny pedestrian island. It’s both enough to make you dance wildly but also stay vigilant in all directions, in case there’s a hulk of motorised metal hurtling towards you.

“Feierabend” again finds Jordan contrasting fast and slow elements, starting with a wistful synth melody hovering over a quietly hyperactive beat. The title is German for ‘end of working day’, and with that in mind it’s tempting to lay a kind of narrative on “Feierabend”, as if someone is tired after a long day, but knows they’ve got to go out to meet friends. As the song progresses, with the beats gradually growing into the song alongside a Nintendo-on-speed melody, it’s as if the tiredness of the day is being shed in favour of pure hedonistic abandon.

Watch Out! closes with “And Groove”, the song that would most readily have fit on For You, as it makes use of luminous jazz keys and an intimate female vocal sample. It’s an appropriate way to round off this hyperactive set, again tapping into that post-club wind-down, relaxing into a couch, not thinking about the physical and mental aches that await the following day.

Jordan has said that the title Watch Out! is a tongue-in-cheek reference to what it’s like to cycle in the city. This can be heard in the productions, where they implement hurtling and clattering elements that can leave you feeling disoriented, but there’s never any doubt that Jordan is focused and in complete command of it all – everything is just where they want it. It’s an undeniably impressive EP from first to last, but it feels like Jordan is only just getting started. With this new set of stampeding bangers now in their arsenal, perhaps it’s everyone else who needs to watch out.