This has been a really strange review for me, it’s, in fact, the second review I’ve written for it, I scrapped the first thinking it just didn’t fit. Not easy this reviewing lark!!! I mean come on I loved the Beat, love Ska, have very definite reggae roots but something wasn’t fitting with this LP. Maybe before I heard it I had too fixed a perception of what it was going to sound like, maybe it ticked too many of my boxes and I just ran out of things to say? Who knows, but here we go the second stab.
Opener ‘Rebel Down’ skanks out of the speakers, Ska with a great punk edge, I can imagine the band opening with this baby and sending a venue mad. Next up “Tattoo King “slows things down with a more traditional Ska beat, grounded in the dancehall as does next up “When I call Your Name”. There’s almost a Lovers Rock lilt to “Girl and Boy”, yeah it holds on to that Ska underpinning but drifts across the reggae genres. I suppose I was expected more of the excitement generated by the beat, but let’s be honest musicians tend to gravitate towards their roots or influences.
Next up “Be As One” picks up the pace, but feels restrained, almost held back, but again definitely a track I can see in the live arena really exploding getting the place moving. Next up “Wrong Shoes” again skanks nicely but has that feeling of restraint, something being held back. There’s a pattern developing here!! “Original Rudegirl Sound” again Skanks out of the speakers but doesn’t explode in the way it could. live I think this would be stunning, I just wish it didn’t feel so held back. “Why Oh Why” again hits almost a Lovers Rock vibe, only the horns hinting at its underpinning, I sound like a broken record this would sound great exploding off the stage, the dual vocals countering each other could give it a real edge. “Ska to the Beat” strays into Madness territory, but with a more traditional feel, this could almost have come out of the sixties dancehall sound in Jamaica.
Next up “Dirty little Liar” again hits that traditional Ska sound and in all honesty prior to next up “Way of Life” the LP had begun to lose me, this to me is probably the stand out track on the LP, it kicks some serious ass, skankin’ as it should but then we drift with “Way I love you” and “Woulda Coulda Shoulda”.
Now if you’ve read this far you’d probably think, well is it a good LP or not? Truth is I’m really not sure what I think. As a traditional Ska LP, it ticks every box, live I can really see it sending a venue into a frenzy, as the band did at this year’s Rebellion Festival. But for me something’s not quite right it feels restrained, almost lacking in confidence, not quite sure of its place or time, almost held back, let the fucker explode!!!! This could be immense. I suppose that’s why I’ve written this twice, live it would be absolutely immense but on LP it hasn’t quite done it for me.
Author: Neville Brooks