Review Summary: Street Gospels is an album to be taken in small doses.
If your band's previous album contained the single that would rise to the #1 spot on the charts, what would you do for your next album? It would only be logical to keep your style, structure, and overall sound the same. Just do exactly what you did for your last album, and you can't go wrong, right? Well, that is exactly what Bedouin Soundclash did for their 2007 release, Street Gospels. Not only does Bedouin Soundclash keep all the song structures exactly as they were on their previous album, Sounding A Mosaic, they never really veer away from their comfort zone, leaving all the tracks to have the same formula. Luckily for Bedouin Soundclash, this formula isn't a bad one.
The reason I say this is an album to be taken in short doses is a result of Bedouin's idea to re-create more of Sounding A Mosaic. The band seems to be afraid to cast aside the same upbeat, poppy tunes and insists on playing each song at the same pace. Adding on the fact that every song follows the same formula, the album gets old very quickly. The singing does not help at all, either. While the singer is obviously talented, he will beat the choruses into your heads so many times you'll know all the lyrics after one listen. The band finally leaves the pop reggae sound in the song Hush, a short a Capella track. Although it is less than two minutes long, the track seems to drag on and it seems completely unnecessary. Luckily we don't hear another track like it on Street Gospels.
While Street Gospels drags on if listened to in its entirety, there are a few incredible stand-out tracks. The rightfully chosen single, Walls Fall Down, is catchy and fast. The chorus is a clear sing-along and the simple yet fast instruments prove for a great listen. Bells of 59, a slightly downbeat and mellow track is another gem. It is one of those song for chilling out at the beach. The vocals and drums lead this song and lead you away to paradise. The opening track is another fast, wailing beat. Similar to Matisyahu's opener to Youth, the track has many stop-and-go moments and is a fun listen. The rest of the album, excluding Hush, provides good, average tracks that, while they won't catch your attention and beg for another listen, are not to be criticized.
This was a challenging album to give a rating to. If you listen to one or two tracks, you will no doubt believe that the album is great. Each track is a new adventure, and they are good to listen to one at a time. However, if you listen to the album in its entirety, you may agree that it is very repetitive and begins to drag on. The album doesn't really flow, as all the upbeat pop-reggae tracks almost meld into one. What Bedouin Soundclash really needs to do is stop combining so many instruments all the time. In any given song, you will no doubt hear a collaboration of keyboards, at least two guitars, a bass, the drums, and the wailing vocals. While this may seem like an ordinary line-up for most bands, Bedouin tries to make each element shine. They need to focus on breaking down their music. The highlight tracks of the album all come when one element of the music leads the rest of the band, such as the drum beat or the vocals. So, while the majority of the tracks are good, you won't really think twice about them, and you definitely won't go back for another listen. Such is the case with this album. Street Gospels has a few standout moments, but it also has its unnecessary average moments. It proves to be a fun listen, but you really won't think twice about it, and you definitely won't go back for another listen. Street Gospels is just 'good.'