Will Heard’s electric opening ‘we would risk it all, we’ll fight until we fall … and even if our world is turned and the sky is falling down, cos it would never change my love, never never change my love ….’ opening begs the question: If you were the voice of a generation, what exactly have Rudimental done for love here? Clearly they have spent their good recording time replenishing and feeding their roots, mainlining straight into the musical zeitgeist then blending their treasure trove with some roots, rock, reggae and random flavours to create ‘We The Generation’ – a love letter to the iGen that’s laced with anthem upon anthem and tied up in red hot release tweets and status update ribbons.
Recorded in Jamaica, ‘We The Generation’, is peppererd with featurings from the freshest of homegrown talent – from Ed Sheeran to MNEK to Will Heard to Foy Vance, then there’s Anne Marie, Lianne Le Havas, Mahalia and the starlet in ascendance Ella Eyre. Apart from a post-humous appeareance from Bobby Womack, like Basement Jaxx of old and unlike Disclosure, they’ve stayed close to their Major Toms / Hackney roots to deliver a sophomore outing where the music and not the super star line up is still very much centrestage.
So what about the music?
The title track is a lovers rock serenade with a plucked, Police-sounding guitar arpeggio, regatta de Hackney trumpets bold and blazing. ‘We Are The Generation, We have had enough’ she sings with gentle but feisty attitude. Meanwhile in ‘Love Ain’t Just A Word’ they lyrics run ‘…I love the blacks, the whites, the asians … cos Love ain’t just a word, just like the air, you can’t see it there but we know we need it’: it’s an urban ‘All You Need Is Love’ spat louder and larger by Dizzee Rascal and neon-graffed high, just like the Peace wall on the cover of ‘Home’. ‘Go Far’ is a lighters-aloft, rock-tinged ballad smoothed by sweet backing vocals and Will Heard’s from the toes to the top of his head raw, soulful reach. Positive yet paradoxically post-humous musings come from the much missed tones of Bobby Womack, whose interpretation of ‘New Day’ stands tall as a funk and blues guitar plucked, drenched walls sweatbox with a drum and bass jump up transition that is as attractive to a dancefloor as it is to the headphone hedonists and Womack oficianados alike.
Written and produced in Jamaica, the smoking, sunshine and Red Stripe vibes are evident.The pace moves fluidly and unhurriedly from drum and bass jump up to nu house / nu soul ballads to downtempo shanty town and skanking horizontal reggae smokers with consummate ease. Take ‘We The Generation’ itself a pure diamond in the rough which flows into the reggae meets drum and bass tinged ‘Love Ain’t Just A Word’ without missing a beat. ‘Foreign World’ sounds like an assault on the American MOR funk rock stations with its lazy Johnny Marr / Bernard Sumner sounding riffs whilst the MNEK rub ‘Common Emotion’ is a smooth, downtempo house groove with a searing vocal that growls and swells, soars and soothes in equal measure with its perfectly crafted pop lyrics. Lianne La Havas’ mesmerising ‘Needn’t Speak’ is an Erykah Badu-esque, jazz-funk stroll down a very sunny percussive then low lit drum and bass teased alley. It’s a wonderful, unexpected soundclash that is admirably executed.
There’s tight songwriting, polished production, beautiful, rich vocals, hits a plenty (certainly Ed Sheeran’s guitar strummed moshpit mentalism in ‘Bloodstream’ and the piano house / deep house gentle ‘let your heart be free, you got a friend in me’ empathy of new single ‘Lay It All On Me’ – are destined to keep this album in the pole racking position for the incoming Christmas market). All these elements are mixed perfectly with Rudimental’s signature trumpets, drum and bass switchbacks and gritty urban sensibility. It’s the perfect Spotify and Itunes choice as every track is a stand alone player in its own right – yet it plays super well in its beginning to middle to end totality. It’s a joyride and musical picnic that sparkles enough to warm the lounges and kicks enough to detonate a live set in a tent or outdoor in a stadium. Hit rewind and come again.
5 out of 5
Reviewed by Paulette