Album Review Featured Reviews

Album Review: Here We Go Love | The English Beat

The English Beat have returned to the scene with their first album since 1982’s Special Beat Service. A lot has happened since then, much less in the short span between their 1980 debut I Just Can’t Stop It and 1981’s Wha’ppen? which denoted a departure in sound from their ska influences towards Caribbean and Roots Reggae. The English Beat is known for taking fun and sunny tropical arrangements with subject matters that are dark, frank and cerebral. With the release of Here We Go Love, a title that indicates optimism, we dive into lyrics that are even more unsettling with an undercurrent of dread. This would seem appropriate, given the current political climate, and it would seem Dave Wakeling has decided, with decades of observation under his belt, that this would be the time to release a new album.

Here We Go Love is a collection of songs that have the same frantic energy and frenzy of their debut album. The album still has a familiar feel, with melodies that are reminiscent of their two tone ska days but with a modern kick utilizing lyrics that pertain to the today’s climate (lyrics that may be categorized as dark, confused, questioning, and pessimistic). In other words, it’s a natural progression in the band’s sound over the last few decades, a progression which we had not heard until now, where it was built up to a loud crescendo in the form of this release. The songs still retain the bright, Calypso-infused feel, but lyrically, Dave goes into the paranoia, fear, and corruption of the 21st century.

The album opens up with “How Can You Stand There,” a catchy organ opens up before going into a steady, rhythmic ska beat. The track explodes with upbeat energy while the lyrics draws on themes of taking action at a time of despair. The production on the album is superb, making use of the clarity of each instrument- like an 80’s production with an extra sheen. The lyrics here are intelligent and expressive, drawing upon themes of a tumultuous time within the last few years. The tunes are catchy, as to be expected, and the rhythm section is thumping, fast, and driving.

“The One and the Only,” a surprisingly cynical song, has a lovely piano solo in the middle of the song that breaks up a song about an unlikeable man. The song deals with themes of blame and finger pointing and, according to Wakeling, examines “the Donald Trump in all of us. The cutting condemnation of leaders and situations leads to multiple use of expletives scattered throughout the album, which juxtaposes with the cheery, happy-go-lucky melody and upbeat instrumentation. The song, “Here We Go Love,” has a carefree attitude, yet questions the logic of that attitude- “sick and tired, mad as fuck, that much lying can’t stand up,” Wakeling surfs through a pulsating drumming section and background vocals while simultaneously proclaiming, here is what I want to say, take it or leave it.

The album becomes a musical rollercoaster as the the music and themes become two separate entities, yet there are moments of earnest happiness. “The Love You Give” starts off with an excellent guitar lick and, as a change of pace, has optimistically romantic lyrics that may be jarring yet provide reprieve from the darkness. “Every Time You Told Me” has a danceable, grooving background chorus – “I told you I told you I told you” that I found to be irresistible. Every song here has a strong hook that keeps the album moving at a breathy pace, despite a runtime of almost an hour.

Here We Go Love is a very clever album, one that may not reveal its sophistication upon an initial listen. You’ll find yourself moving to the music, but a close listen will reveal the lyrics of a dark time and coming to terms with it through a bright, splattered burst of Ska, Reggae, Dub, Latin and other tropical influences. The vocals throughout are very strong- I was reminded of Elvis Costello, but backed with even more swagger. The band still retains its edge while creating grooves. They leave no stones unturned, and while the songs themselves may be too heavy under lesser hands, they present it in the from of clear-eyed, rhythmic tunes that instead become healing.

Release Date: June 15, 2018
Rating: 4/5

Track listing:
1. how can you stand there?
2. the one and the only
3. redemption time
4. if killing worked
5. here we go love
6. never die
7. the love you give
8. you really oughtta know
9. you’re stuck
10. every time you told me
11. dem call it ska
12. drive her away
13. be there for you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.