Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman are merchants of mood. Performing together as Majid Jordan – Al Maskati sings, Ullman produces – the Toronto duo helped write and produce Drake’s 2013 hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” a pop confection that was really a deep house track at its core. That song lingered in listeners’ ears (and radio programmers’ playlists) thanks to its deft use of negative space, careful never to crowd out the song’s hooks. At its best, Majid Jordan’s self-titled debut LP finds that same balance, marrying the propulsive qualities of dance music with the nocturnal haze for which Drake’s label OVO and its associated acts have become shorthand over the last half decade.
The duo are most engaging when they keep at least one foot on the dancefloor. Elsewhere, their interest in after-hours vibes can rob their music of its forward motion – see the lethargic “Love Is Always There”, which never manages to shake its early-morning grogginess, and “Warm”, a track whose title would be more accurate if it was preceded with “Luke.” But the tracks with an actual pulse can genuinely thrill. “Make It Work” is a fluttery groove with a Richter-scale-tipping low-end; on “Small Talk,” Al Maskati’s distinctive voice and knack for melody rescue anonymous lyrics. Then there’s “King City,” which begins in the clouds and then shoots into orbit when his gorgeous falsetto enters. “I’m letting loose,” Al Maskati boasts on “Shake Shake Shake”, the album’s most kinetic cut. It’s just a shame that Majid Jordan don’t let their hair down more often.