A few bland guests can't ruin the East London collective's Jamaica recorded second album
You can’t deny it, Rudimental have hit on a formula. Bursting out of Hackney in 2012, their blend of chunky drum’n’bass rhythms and winsome singer-songwriter bits – supplied by a strong guest cast including John Newman, MNEK and Emeli Sandé – rocketed the four-piece to the top of the UK album chart (with 2013’s ‘Home’) and into ballroom venues and muddy festival fields across Europe. In The Streets’ ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’, Mike Skinner proclaimed he made “[i]bangers, not anthems[/i]”. A decade later, Rudimental are reminding us you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other.
For ‘We The Generation’, the foursome decamped to Jamaica to record at Geejam Studios, a lavish complex formerly frequented by everyone from Amy Winehouse to reggae production giants Sly & Robbie. Some of the island’s sunny vibe finds its way into ‘We The Generation’, from ‘Love Ain’t Just A Word’ – a horn-powered skank with Dizzee Rascal adding a bit of amiable braggadocio – to deluxe version track ‘System’, a wistful closer featuring roots reggae elder Max Romeo.
Probably wisely, though, Rudimental haven’t entirely torn up the map that took ‘Home’ to the top of the chart. Many of the guests are of the squeaky-clean variety – Ella Eyre and Sinead Harnett will be deemed edgy by almost no one – while two Lianne La Havas-sung numbers tackle bossa nova (‘Needn’t Speak’) and slinky disco (‘Breath’). Still, Rudimental know when to light the fireworks. ‘I Will For Love’ and ‘Never Let You Go’ both come on like a tug-of-war between earnest romantic moping and nutty jump-up breakbeats, and the occasional rush of blood to the head certainly makes the sentiment slip down easier.
A couple of guests show the band’s pulling power. ‘Bloodstream’ is quite literally a rework of an Ed Sheeran song about a druggy night out, and appeared on his 2014 album ‘X’. However, this is the version the megastar got Rudimental – who co-wrote the song – to remix for the single release, and the drums that erupt 90 seconds in mark it out as a collaboration for sure.
A cameo from the late Bobby Womack on ‘New Day Coming’, meanwhile, feels surprisingly poignant. One of the last tracks the R&B giant recorded before his death last year, it’s a sultry, wise number about mortality and destiny pitched perfectly between modern electronic pop polish and Muscle Shoals groove. It proves Rudimental have developed the confidence to handle a voice of real stature without getting stage fright – and even if it leaves you puzzling why they persist with some of their blander guests, it gets you wondering where they might go on album number three.
Record label: Asylum/ Atlantic/ Black Butter
Release date: 02 Oct, 2015