While the Stereo MCs should be applauded for trying something different, unfortunately ‘Emperor’s Nightingale’ does not fully hit the spot. Rob Birch takes more of a song based approach this time, singing more than you would expect, and this robs the music of some of the urban edge the MCs have cultivated so well over the years. Vocalists Cath Coffey and Rachel Birch have little to no input here, too, which means the songs themselves become more one dimensional. While the subjects are clearly close to Birch’s heart, the lyrics too are difficult to relate to, especially when he starts referencing how the ‘speed of light feels alright’ on ‘2 Can Do’. While Birch and Hallam are clearly still fluent songwriters, it’s to be hoped they’ll return to the cutting edge sounds that continue to make them a solid live proposition. This, alas, is all a bit flat.