This article appears in our 2017 Spring issue, Family Values. Subscribe today!
Denitia Odigie and Brian “Sene” Marc are a mind-bogglingly hardworking pair. Odigie is a prolific vocalist, putting out a continuous stream of collaborations with other New York City musicians, while Marc’s acting career is blowing up this year with appearances in the Sundance standout White Girls and Netflix’s Luke Cage. Between all these projects, the duo also released their sophomore LP together, love and noir.
denitia and sene first burst onto the R&B scene with their 2013 debut LP his and hers, which charmed listeners with its shimmering love songs and compelling he-says/she-says vocals. The two have spoken repeatedly about how naturally his and hers emerged, and that ease is evident in the album’s relaxed hooks.
Unfortunately, that ease does not extend to their latest record. The production is still impeccable, with many beautifully executed ebbs and swells. However, the sneaky earworms of their first record are absent, leaving a successful atmospheric album without any real breakout tracks. love and noir would make an excellent soundtrack for a rainy day spent at home, but it’s unlikely you would ever find yourself seeking out a specific song because you can’t get it out of your head. One limiting factor for denitia and sene is that they’ve posted up in a glitchy, soulful niche that has become an increasingly crowded space. Other artists such as Sylvan Esso and Marian Hill are similarly manipulating the norms of R&B and electronic genres with more compelling results.
The one track on this album that succeeds at recapturing some of the easy magic of their debut is “roulette,” which is notable because of its conversational back and forth vocals. The chemistry between Odigie and Marc evokes the hard-won comforts of a long-term relationship, though the lyrical simplicity of the song erases some potential depth.
“I really enjoy the process of polishing the stone,” Odigie told the New York Times earlier this year. And indeed, her ear for carefully pared-down beats and lyrics is what makes some of this album work. Hopefully on future records that editing will come with more heart as well.