Review Summary: Combining all the elements that make good R&B, soul, reggae, whatnot and having a message along the way.
These days, making musical politically charged statements in something you could loosely call the R&B, soul format, you would immediately think of verbally charged hip-hop and probably some quite heavy beats. It seems that everybody forgot about the days of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. But what if somebody came out with a work in a similar, should we say ‘softer’ soul version infused with more current musical elements like good beats and still have charged lyrics with a strong message"
And then comes the duo Agency with their second album Resist and make a very strong attempt at doing exactly that! Musically not only does the album include all those key elements that made the Marvin Gaye era soul so great, but add all the key elements of modern R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Reggae and electronics with both style and poise, without any element overpowering the other. The guys immediately take the cue from Marvin Gaye with the opener “What’s Going On (Right Now)”, recalling the sound of that masterpiece and including the snippets of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech. But what is evident musically, is that Agency has picked their sounds from such a wide array of influences that at times it is hard to distinguish where they came from, since they blended them in so well. That is also exemplified in what seems a strange choice of two included covers - Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” and Jimi Hendrix’ “Machine Gun”. But both are given a musical treatment that fits in the context of other songs since they thematically fit in the message already. Those familiar with the Hendrix original are going to be both surprised and pleased with the Agency version. After all, the guys have previously won a prize for their treatments of The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. They are also able to fit the words of the poet Maya Angelou into their music in “Senses of Insecurity” and have done so admirably.
But it is their words, their lyrics that give this album a special touch. As they said in an interview, the album was conceived around the song “Desire”, written the day when the ‘Muslim ban’ was introduced in the US - “God gives us woman, God gave us man/ then gave us children to start over again/ each generation gets worse than the first/ it’s all about greed, it’s all about the thirst” (“Desire”). Strong words, strong music, excellent album. Agency’s Resist is a force to be reckoned with.