Here’s my view on what were the best albums released last Friday 1st February. There’s a fair few links to my fuller (though still not too long) reviews here too. There’s also a Spotify sample playlist so you can make you own mind up about the artists.
The Specials – Encore
The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.
Ripples is the seventh solo studio album from King Monkey, but if you have any of Ian Brown‘s individual works, you’re not going to get much value from adding this to your collection.
Opener First World Problems is a funky, keyboard/organ driven number that is unmistakeably Brown, recalling some of the finer moments from previous albums. However, lyrically it resembles something more akin to a half-arsed late-night Facebook rant about people ranting on Facebook about pointless shit.
Lyrically thing’s get worse on Blue Sky Day, another organ driven piece, where Brown lays into the fat cats and how they are all out to destroy us. I’m not one to defend the capitalist system, but this is proper conspiracy theorist stuff. I mean he’s going on about chemtrails FFS!
There are some moments of interest interspersed across Ripples. Black Roses has some nice grungy guitars driving the piece along. The Dream and the Dreamer is a laid back funky number that grooves along to a reasonable conclusion.
There is also some nice indie-acoustic work on Easy and It’s Raining Diamonds along with the reggae/dub infused Break Down The Walls (Warm Up Jam).
Title track Ripples is probably the best on the album – an upbeat funky number with a nice breakbeat pushing things along and some interesting guitar work.
Unfortunately this album suffers from two big problems. Firstly, it is instantly recognisable as belonging to the same canon as his previous work in The Stone Roses and his other solo albums – but comes up well short against them in terms of quality. Secondly, there is a severe lack of song progression going on throughout the album. If you’ve heard the first 30 seconds of most of the tracks, then there’s very little point in listening to the rest of it – nothing really changes.
If it’s to be believed that The Roses have broken up permanently this time, Brown may have a bit more time on his hands. He might want to think about spending it working on a new direction, instead of churning out more by-numbers efforts like this one.
Another glut of new releases to work through. Of today’s debuts we see the likes of Ian Brown, The Specials and White Lies offering up some fresh material. I’ll review the best through the coming week and rate them all as I go along.