Mikill Pane - Blame Miss Barclay (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S always a pleasure to listen to a breakthrough artist who offers genuine crossover appeal. And Mikill Pane does just that with debut album Blame Miss Barclay.
At first glance – and off the back of album opener and title track – the artist would appear to be another UK hip-hop artist with elements of grime to his name. But with a little help from producer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Nina Nesbitt) and an adventurous sense of songwriting, there’s much, much more to him.
Blame Miss Barclay surrounds the rap element at its core with elements of pop, dub, reggae and rock, while delivering lyrics that are, by turns, quick witted and thought provoking.
Evidence of that ability to mix things up and broaden his appeal is found on the single (and third song in) Summer In The City, which opens amid a jolly whistle and some wry observations about summer in the UK and all that makes a sunshine day such a breeze. It’s undeniably catchy and succeeds in dropping the cheeky lyrical flow that makes Pane so endearing (courtesy of pearls like “I’ve got so many bad weather memorries I might be Rain Man” and “picnics turn to wet T-shirt contests”).
Dirty Rider, the track which follows, takes a rapid bicycle ride through the city (“everyone in London knows Mikill Pane’s name cos I zip across the junctions like I’m Y-K-K”) and sets it against a backdrop of ckeeky rap and a sung chorus that drops some big beats and “who oh” chants. It’s sense of energy is, once again, infectious; its lyrics offering up insights every London driver can relate to.
If those two songs are the sound of the LP at its most brazenly cheeky, then Lucky showcases a more pensive side to the artist. Opening amid some cinematic, sombre piano arrangements and atmospheric storm sounds, it then adopts a guitar backdrop (which is similarly moody) and proceeds to tell the gripping story of the aftermath of a fatal accident. It carries the same lyrical potency and crossover appeal as, say, Eminem’s Stan, as well as a blistering chorus contribution from Joanna Moore.
The remainder of the album continues to mix up the tempos and emotions, drifting between the fun and the harder hitting. Good Feeling, for instance, is a snappy ode to optimism that’s born from hardship and social realism, No One Gets Left Behind a grungy rocker about displacement and love, and Rooftops a breezy tale of a smoker and voyeur trying to get his act together that’s rife with more observations.
You Don’t Know Me confronts racial stereotyping and relationships in compelling fashion, complete with a slick set of beats and an anthemic, probing chorus, Chairman of the Bored is alive with calypso elements, and Life On The Line once more unfolds in thought-provoking fashion as it recalls the tale of a tragic fame seeker.
Further notable moments come in the form of Fade Away and the fun Straight To The Bottom (a cheeky crowd-pleaser that drops the chorus “with that bottom, you’ll go straight to the top”). While closing track The End even drops in a bluesy acoustic ballad that succeeds in showcasing yet another, more intimate, side to Pane’s make-up.
Put together, this is a great introduction to a really talented new artist. There’s a lot to like.
Download picks: Summer In The City, Dirty Rider, Lucky, Good Feeling, Rooftops, You Don’t Know Me, Life On The Line