DRUM AND BASS
Rudimental, We The Generation (Black Butter/Asylum Records)
“We could risk it all,” sings Will Heard in “I Will For Love,” the exhilarating track that opens Rudimental’s second album We The Generation. True to his words, this album finds the London-based drum and bass quartet putting everything they’ve got out there … and, happily, winning big. Rudimental is one of few modern groups who understand how drum and bass actually works: It’s meant to propel good songwriting, not consume and regurgitate it.
You can scarcely get through We The Generation without tripping over several potential smash hits that demand immediate repeat plays, such as the reggae-flavored “Love Ain’t Just a Word,” which features a tongue-twisting toast by Dizzee Rascal; “Common Emotion,” a bumping R&B shuffle beautifully sung by MNEK; and “New Day,” a properly soulful send-off for the late, great Bobby Womack. Rudimental allows the vocals to set the tone for the songs; rarely do the beats get the better of them. Not everything works here—Ed Sheeran’s reedy vocals are lost in the sexy slow burn of “Bloodstream”—but We The Generation takes these speed bumps in full stride, racing to a deserved victory. ★★★★✩ – Geoff Carter
Public Image Ltd., What the World Needs Now … (PiL Official/Cargo Records)
What the World Needs Now opens with John Lydon sneering, “Wot, you fucking nagging again?” and ends 11 tracks later with a bellowed “Fuck off!” The man who invented post-punk with Public Image Ltd. is back in fine form.
“Double Trouble” and “Know Now” are reminiscent of early PiL, with solid bass lines, spiky guitars and Rotten’s gleeful nihilism leading the charge. The latter tune’s chanted hook and razor-edged riffs would fit into Metal Box but could also teach today’s poseurs a few lessons. “Big Blue Sky” leans more toward PiL’s moodier, dub-influenced side, while “Corporate” creates a collage of heavy bass lines and guitar loops to convey a sense of seething corruption that matches the song’s message. What does the world need now? A new PiL album probably isn’t a bad start. ★★★★✩ – Lissa Townsend Rodgers
Disclosure, Caracal (PMR/Island Records)
For Disclosure’s sophomore effort, brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence have recruited some of the biggest names in music to handle vocal duties. It’s extremely ambitious in theory, but that guest list is where Caracal falls flat. The stars deliver on their promise—Sam Smith’s croons in “Omen” carry the momentum of 2012’s “Latch,” and “Nocturnal” rides the Weeknd’s wave of success. But by hiring on star performers, Disclosure plays it too safe; Caracal plays more like a mixtape of pop tunes rather than a standout Disclosure record.
Worse still, the songwriting and production are inconsistent. A collaboration with Lorde, “Magnets,” shoots for the stars with tribal drums, but stumbles in its pacing. The grand chorus of “Superego” is forced onto a very basic song structure. Caracal’s gems are where the brothers turn up the BPM — “Holding On” is a bouncy, hi-hat-laden smash, and “Echoes” brings us back to Disclosure’s garage roots. Where their previous effort Settle was a confident, impressive display of the Lawrences’ ability to craft a wide variety of hits big and small, Caracal leaves Disclosure in an awkward middle ground, alienating both dance music purists and casual fans. ★★★✩✩ – Ian Caramanzana