Athletes of God are a double-barrelled sonic power-combo of vocalist Lady Blackbird and UK producer-don Richard Barratt aka Crooked Man. “Don’t Wanna Be Normal” is a house-adjacent tune — at around 93 BPM it’s hardly a peak-time jack track — but the beats, the groove and the feel are all, to my ears, house. Besides, house music can be slow, if you’re a DJ you know how pitch control works right, so don’t be closed minded to the particular joys of low-tempo house, play some slow, chugging jams from time to time, I’m sure your dance floor will thank you for it.
“Don’t Wanna Be Normal” is a cover of a tasty little-known ’80s soul track from Randy Crawford which layers digital synths and clicky drum machines behind her smooth, haunting vocal. A of G have taken it, slowed it to a funereal pace and transmogrified it into a grinding, dramatic and hypnotic 4/4 robo-soul extravaganza, finding the understated yearning melancholy in the original and putting it centre stage.
It’s a big production, epic even, based around a single spindly guitar-sounding riff (although it might actually be a synth) and full of the sweeping, widescreen Crooked Man production touches that fans have come to love. As with many of his productions, Crooked Man provides a single edit, an eight-minute-plus long version plus a couple of dubbed out versions for DJs to really go to town on. You could, if you felt your dance floor was up for it, get in the mix with all three versions and really stretch that shit out, like an actual DJ.
I don’t know how else to say it, this track just sounds like they really mean it. Summertime trudge-house anthem-in-waiting.
Athletes of God featuring Lady Blackbird: Don’t Wanna Be Normal (Crooked Man Remixes) (Foundation / Digital / July 2022)
1. Athletes of God featuring Lady Blackbird: Don’t Wanna Be Normal (Long And Crooked) (08:11)
2. Athletes of God featuring Lady Blackbird: Don’t Wanna Be Normal (Wanna Be Crooked) (06:51)
3. Athletes of God featuring Lady Blackbird: Don’t Wanna Be Normal (Wanna Be More Crooked) (06:02)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was submitted as a promo.