Groove Armada - Soundboy Rock Album Review
It’s been nearly five years since Tom Findlay and Andy Cato´s last studio album – Lovebox. Five years is a long time in music and much has changed within the day-glo spectrum of dance, electronica and downtempo since this Cambridge duo became hugely successful with hits like, ‘Superstylin’ and, ‘I See You Baby(Shakin That Ass)’ proving irresistible to dancefloors and advertising agencies all over the world.
A quick glance at the list of collaborators hints at a typically broad album that oozes contemporary style, Simon Lord (Simian Mobile Disco), Candi Staton, Mutya Buena (ex Sugababe), Tony Allen (Fela Kuti/The Good The Bad & The Queen), Alan Donohoe (The Rakes), Ryhmefest (Mark Ronson) to name but a few.
First single from their 5th long player, ‘Get Down’ (out 30th April) is GA returning with a bang doing what they do best. Huge, bouncy slabs of addictive, dirty electro house. MC Stoosh and Bedrock from London bring the rudest ragga ragga sauce whilst Cato and Findlay add the spice of well seasoned DJ´s. With a fantastic video creating the mandatory internet buzz that features a gang of inappropriate dancing bunnies, and red hot remixes by Calvin Harris and Henrik Schwarz you know this is gonna be a massive record sure to put GA back into the bags and Ipods of DJ´s & clubbers the world over.
‘The Things We Could Share’ is a continuation of GA´s exploration of electro, house and rock and ranges from early Prince synth funk pop to Daft Punk and would be in danger of become an eighties pastiche if not for Simon Lord´s(Simian) understated vocals. With further electro meanderings on tracks like ‘Save our Souls’, ‘Love The Sound’ and the dutty, dancehall flavoured, ‘Drop That Thing’ its clear that the boys are eager to please the dance fraternity. Meanwhile, tracks like the Zero7 imitation, ‘What’s Your Version’, ‘From The Rooftops’, and the very Sebastian Tellier-esque ‘Paris’ will keep the Big Chill set happy and have always been a staple of the GA repertoire, lush soundscapes of downtempo trip hop and soft soul which will see them adorning chillout CDs for many years to come. The only problem with this persistent switching between uptempo booty house and downtempo cafe-hop is that it at times it does not make a very coherent album. The P-funk tinged ‘The Girls Say’ is a chunky slice of Block-hop, reminiscent of Cameo, (but no-one can get away with the line ‘funk you too’, except Sir George of Clinton!) ‘Lightsonic’ is a more mature, savvier, electro-dub version of the ‘Superstylin’ blueprint and title track ‘Soundboy Rock’ is an exercise in authentic roots dub that disappointingly throws in far too many reggae cliches to btche taken seriously. Earmarked as the second single ‘Song 4 Mutya’, is the brainchild of GA´s A&R dept and see´s the Sugababy hook up with songwriter Karen Poole, it´s an out an out eighties summer pop standard, huge commercial appeal and will no doubt get heavy rotation on daytime radio this summer, but this track may prove to be a serious blot on the album´s credibility & listenability.
Groove Armada have proven yet again that they are capable of producing a colourful album packed with many different styles and flavours and anyone who bought their recent Best Of will enjoy this album. With a full live international tour imminent, no doubt this will be a succesful return for the boys.However, I believe that 15 tracks is too many for this kind of music and they could have produced a much more listenable and focused record with fewer tracks.
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