Review Summary: Plenty of light on this Horizon: Soundclash aims for a more melancholy sound and with their level of brilliance, manage to reach it... 90% of the time.
The opening few seconds of Bedouin Soundclash's fourth album may surprise you if you're only familiar with their "Sounding a Mosaic" stuff- they've evolved from their reggae revival sound into a more reggae rock sound. But then again, those who have been following their evolution through the years would know that "Street Gospels" hinted at an oncoming change in pace. And with a new bassist, the three-piece Kingston band have managed to reach that level.
The album, for the most part, can be divided into two categories: The catchy reggae-rock songs or the melancholic ballads. The good news is: there almost just as much good in both categories to keep the album balanced. And with all that said and done, the best track, without a doubt, is the beautiful and tragic ballad entitled "May You Be The Road". It has a catchy beat, but its melancholy sound and western tinge make for one of the most inve give ballads I've heard in years. The other ballads press for the most part too; "Elongo" is an epic and triumphant song that wouldnt be out of place as an African chant, and its blend of acoustic guitar and strings with Malinowski's rough voice make for a lovely combo.
One track worth mentioning is Brutal Hearts. This track is HOT!!!!! it's a duet between Malinowski and his girlfriend, "Beatrice Coeur de Pirate
Martin". Her voice is so sexy, it fits with the heavily sexual lyrics. Yes, it's a song about a one night stand, but it's done very tongue in cheek. "I don't mind at all/I don't mind that you only call me when you want/I'm just glad you want me at all." Class!
But it's not all about the ballads, as the one weak track is indeed one of the ballads- "No One Moves No One Gets Hurt" is kind of weak if you ask me, and I think the album would have survived without it, it just feels way out of place.
The reggae rockers, on the other hand, are done with Soundclash's touch of class. "Mountain Top" is subdued yet energetic, and it starts the album out on a good, fast note. "Fool's Tattoo" has a ska vibe, and the trumpet just adds a nice edge to the tune. "Rolling Stone" is very much like UB40's finest tracks, a song I'm sure they'd be proud of. This song is ideal for beach listening. And "The Quick and the Dead" and "A Chance of Rain" are worth mentioning too, the former being a laid back western sounding reggae tune and the latter being a Marley-esque track.
Closing out the album is "Follow the Sun", one of the most bizarre and creepy closers I've heard- I'd put them on par with Madonna's "Mer Girl" (closing "Ray of Light") and Pendulum's "Still Grey" (closing out "Hold Your Colour"). It begins (and ends) with the sound of a helicopter and with very little presence of guitar, as well as sprinkles of synth and a subdued bassline, the song is about two survivors of a nuclear fallout, and the surroundings being so bleak and hard to see, all they can do is "follow the sun", as they ask questions why God chose them to survive of all people. The eerie and dreamy feel with Malinowski's dreamy vocals make for one hell of an album closer.
If you want modern rock that, well, rocks, be sure to pick up this disc. It's proof that a band still cares about making real music, and it will keep you wanting more. Bring on the next album!