Madley Croft will readily admit a deeply personal reticence and perfectionism slowed the album. While “Mid Air” mostly resembles what Madley Croft and Fred again.. originally started five years ago, she said, “I needed a bit of time to really grow into how these songs could be, if I felt comfortable with them being as sort of upbeat as they are.”
If “Mid Air” has a central thesis, it’s “Enjoy Your Life,” one of the last songs finished for the LP, which originated when the dance-pop heroine Robyn invited Madley Croft to see a performance by Beverly Glenn-Copeland, the electronic music trailblazer, in 2019. “I didn’t know Glenn, then, but obviously, when Robyn says something’s going to be amazing, you just go, right?” Madley Croft said. Watching Copeland perform “La Vita,” and hearing the fluttering lyric “My mother says to me, ‘Enjoy your life,’” Madley Croft had a moment of revelation. “I just was like: Oh my God.”
She took the inspiration back to Fred again.., and Jamie xx joined their sessions. When her bandmate heard the lyrics, he thought of a disco track of the same name by the Nigerian disco singer Oby Onyioha.
“And then we sort of began this journey of trying to make all the elements fit together,” she said. The song went through countless iterations, which got convoluted. In a last-ditch effort to save the track, Madley Croft took it to Stuart Price, the decorated dance producer who helped Madonna retake nightclubs with “Confessions on a Dance Floor.” Price had a streamlined, bolder take on the song. After an hour, she had become comfortable with his bigger, more unapologetically pop-oriented direction.
“All the songs that I worked on the album went a certain direction. And they were sounding really good, but they also weren’t sounding like Romy’s dream,” Jamie xx said. “The whole album sounds so exactly what she wanted, and I’m so happy for her.” In December, the band reunited for its first songwriting session in a few years — both Madley Croft and Jamie xx cited it as one of the better ones in the band’s history: less preciousness, more openness and more generosity among the trio.
In April, as she rehearsed in Shoreditch, Madley Croft started out reluctant. When she’d move in front of the D.J. decks and take the microphone in her hand, her movements were reticent. Slowly, which each subsequent run-through of each song, they grew.