The talents of Chloe and Halle Bailey have never languished in obscurity. As young children, the Atlanta-born sisters acted in big-budget movies; when they decided to diversify into music in their early teens, they were swiftly snapped up by Beyoncé’s management company (they later made a cameo appearance in her visual album Lemonade). Since then, the duo have established themselves as precociously capable all-rounders, receiving Grammy nods for their 2018 debut The Kids Are Alright and becoming regulars on teen sitcom Grown-ish (there’s also a game-changing profile boost on the horizon, with Halle due to star as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid).
Despite their lifelong entanglement in the showbiz machine, Chloe and Halle are not your average child stars. Their music has never been tween-friendly chart-bait – instead, they emerged with a strain of sophisticated and elegant R&B that you’d have a hard time categorising as juvenilia. On their second album, the pair double down on this mode, matching sumptuous harmonies with intricate beats. In service to their impeccable cool and class, the pair swerve big choruses and obvious melodies, and exercise restraint when diverting away from their signature style. Instead of pop sugar-hit or arresting experimentation, Ungodly Hour’s draw lies in the detail; not only the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it strangeness – Busy Boy briefly opens with tremulous blues that could have been recorded in the 1930s, while the highly entertaining Tipsy mixes casually threatening lyrics with curious percussion sounds – but in the slow-burn appeal of the pair’s vocal melodies, which are habitually inventive, ornate and hauntingly beautiful.