The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tim McNa­mara

We the Gen­er­a­tion Rudi­men­tal Ma­jor Toms/Asy­lum

Since emerg­ing in 2012 with the Bri­tish chart­top­ping Feel the Love, fea­tur­ing John New­man, Lon­don quar­tet Rudi­men­tal has cham­pi­oned a soul­ful brand of vo­cal, horn­in­fected elec­tron­ica. Sim­i­lar to how Dis­clo­sure’s 2013 de­but Set­tle was lauded for its fresh take on house and garage, Rudi­men­tal’s de­but al­bum of the same year, Home, be­came largely syn­ony­mous with its high-tempo drum and bass tunes, de­spite the al­bum be­ing a di­verse mu­si­cal odyssey that in­cluded nods to hip hop, house, pop, soul and R & B. On We the Gen­er­a­tion, Piers Agget, Amir Amor, Kesi Dry­den and Leon Rolle main­tain their love af­fair with drum and bass, but it’s the tunes that ex­plore other mu­si­cal ter­ri­tory — from reg­gae to dub, house to jazz to pop — that of­ten shine brighter and bet­ter demon­strate the Hack­ney four’s mu­si­cal ver­sa­til­ity. This is an ac­com­plished sopho­more al­bum marked by emo­tive, mu­si­cal and dance­able songs of vary­ing tem­pos, where the elec­tronic em­pha­sis is bal­anced through lush keys, horns, guitar and other in­stru­men­ta­tion. Will Heard’s nu­mer­ous per­for­mances, in­clud­ing his soar­ing vo­cal on en­er­getic opener I Will for Love, the first of many tracks to ben­e­fit from Rudi­men­tal’s sig­na­ture horn sec­tion, are stand­outs and in­dica­tive of the soul­ful un­der­cur­rent run­ning strongly through­out. They mir­ror those al­bum-shap­ing con­tri­bu­tions of New­man and MNEK on Home, the lat­ter of whom ap­pears here on the laid­back house groove Com­mon Emo­tion. With Anne Marie on the house bumper Ru­mour Mill, Heard is in full flight while speak­ing out against the cheap thrills posed by lies and gos­sip. Along­side Home col­lab­o­ra­tor Sinead Har­nett on the beau­ti­ful, chug­ging Tread­ing on Wa­ter, mean­while, his vo­cal range over­shad­ows the crispy beats and nearly the daz­zling mid-track guitar solo. Never Let You Go, with its thump­ing drum and bass beat, guitar licks and Foy Vance’s search­ing vo­cal, is lead sin­gle for a rea­son, while Blood­stream fea­tures the pipes of Ed Sheeran, in what is a thump­ing re­work of the orig­i­nal in­cluded on the red­head’s world­beat­ing al­bum X. Sheeran fea­tures again on the an­themic Lay It All on Me, which, with its build­ing keys, acous­tic el­e­ments and pop vo­cal hook, seems des­tined for big things. Love Ain’t Just a Word be­gins on a hornin­spired reg­gae tip be­fore grad­u­at­ing to fa­mil­iar drum and bass ter­ri­tory, a per­fect base for Anne Marie to back-and-forth with Dizzee Ras­cal, who de­liv­ers a typ­i­cally moody, in-your-face vo­cal.

The late Bobby Wo­mack fea­tures on New Day, a bluesy num­ber that, among the big beats and guitar, pri­ori­tises the soul leg­end’s raspy voice, in what is one of his fi­nal recorded vo­cal per­for­mances. Sys­tem ends pro­ceed­ings in a flurry of horns, vo­cal sam­ples and dubbed-out beats led by Max Romeo, Earl 16 & Spee, in what is part Thiev­ery Cor­po­ra­tion, part Groove Ar­mada’s Su­per­stylin’.

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