Review: Jack Foley
IT'S been four years since we've heard anything from The Stereo
MCs but their 'comeback album', Paradise, is a strong
return to form and the funk-hop sound of their roots.
Released on their own label, Graffiti Recordings, Paradise
is as socially aware as it is dance-orientated, touching upon
some extremely relevant issues while also tossing up some feel-good
Opening track and album highlight, Warhead, is immediately
recognisable for blending bass, horns and keys that sit in sharp
contrast to Rob B’s laconic rhyming style.
It bears all the hallmarks of the band’s trademark sound
while providing something that remains fresh and politically-relevant
in these troubled times - and the use of horns and strings are
particularly effective against the driving beat and authoritative
Former single and title track, Paradise, is similarly
impressive, brimming with the laconic, loose-limbed funk of old,
some shimmering brass stabs and more of Rob B’s call-and-response
In contrast, First Love offers a slo-mo glimpse of a
rarely-seen side to the band, complete with a genuinely soulful
chorus and a more song-led structure that once more demonstrates
their growing maturity.
It’s a genuine eye-opener, courtesy of the Shirley Bassey-style
vocals, and its immaculate beat. It is another of the album's
Strings combine with Spanish and electric guitar on the melancholy,
blues-tinged The Fear, which drops in some really sassy
While there's a distinctly acid jazz vibe to Don't Know,
one of several funk-driven numbers that look certain to raise
the temperature on the dancefloor.
Just occasionally, there's even a nod to the vocal style of Ian
Brown in some of Rob B's vocals - especially during tracks like
While some good flute work ensures that Float On, with
its gospel-tinged chorus, rises above the norm, even if, as a
whole, it lacks the ambition of some of the album's better material
- much like Prime Time and Set If Off.
That said, Paradise impresses more than it disappoints
and remains one of the best albums the Stereo MCs have assembled
It's well worth checking out.