Smokers Die Younger
Irish ex-pat Shameless was always going to find himself compared to Plan B in the white-boy hip-hop stakes, and he's probably not done himself any favours by asking him to appear on his debut album, Smokers Die Younger. Incidentally, the track which features Mr B, 'No Hats No Trainers', is the best one on the album, with the most interesting beats and arrestingly skewed horn samples.
Also, the toe-curlingly mawkish 'Addicted' owes a great debt to Plan B, with its R'n'B production and classical guitar sounding like 'Charmaine's boring cousin.
Despite these comparisons, Shameless's delivery is actually closer to Skinnyman than it is to Plan B, the problem is, he has not produced anything to rival them as yet. All of the standards are in place: kid grows up on the wrong side of town and is saved by music, blah blah blah. This story can actually be compelling in the right hands, just look at Akala's record, but here it often sounds tired and clich'd. Tracks have names like 'Live Fast' and 'Die Young', and on 'Some Things' you can actually hear the lyrics 'the world keeps spinning'.
There are, however, moments on Smokers Die Younger where flashes of potential can be seen, the arrangement on the aforementioned 'Some Things' is almost interesting enough to balance the slightly naff lyrics, and the bluesy coda on 'Everyday' is inspired.
If Shameless can fill a record with moments like these and tighten up lyrically, then there's no reason why he can't produce something as impressive as 'Who Needs Actions.', but until then, this rather listless and incomplete offering is all we have to go on.
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