White people making reggae, how often does it work? Well history tells us it can go two ways. The worst that can happen, is you end up sounding like UB40, no scrap that, the worst that can happen is you end up sounding like Sid Owen. It's rarely been done well, when you're not from Jamaica and yet you sing in such an accent, it's always going to irritate a fair few people, in which case the music has to be good. The Police, a band Will And The People supported, managed to pull this off despite Sting having a similar popularity status to that of Marmite.
So can Will and the People pull it off? Well they don't really sound like the Police nor do they sound like hero Bob Marley, if anything they share a likeliness with little known Canadian band Bedouin Soundclash. Front man Will Rendle certainly has the voice for the task at hand, it's soothing and able to hit high notes with ease, while containing enough soul to be able to blend in with the music of the genre. It's a voice that's well showcased on opener Troubled Pro, its acoustic guitars and generally stripped down manner allow Rendles voice to shine without complication.
Despite being reggae influenced, these songs are ultimately pop songs, each of them are single material and feature strong choruses aching to be played on radios. Salamander, the albums strongest track, is the biggest candidate for commercial success, it zips along with ease to a fast paced drum before the words 'I'm like a Salamander' define the songs subject.
It's all standard ska tracks, following the same formula until we reach Propeller Eyes, an intriguing track that arrives in the vein of Vampire Weekend with its constant breaks in guitar. It also mentions bank robbers, perhaps in a nod to two tone idols The Specials.
The answer to the earlier question of whether Will and the People can carry this style of music off? is a resounding yes. The Brighton five piece have an unrivalled energy to their sound and it pours into their music without apology or warning. Releasing this album on their own label Baggy Trouser Music, might mean that Morning Sun isn't destined to be a soundtrack to the summer, which is a shame because there are elements of it that undoubtedly deserve to be.