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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Album review: Rudimental remain evergreen on new album

A sprawling, slightly bloated set of strong tunes, We The Generation fails to quite capture the festival-friendly, glow-stick-waving euphoria of the band's live show.
Rudimental’s new album We the Generation is out now. David Ma
Rudimental’s new album We the Generation is out now. David Ma

We The Generation

Rudimental

(Asylum/Atlantic/Black Butter)

Four stars

Rudimental’s first album was a quiet revelation. Released in April 2013, Home showed that (loosely defined) drum‘n’bass could be danceable, fun and find a place on the radio. It also demonstrated, through collaborations with John Newman, Ella Eyre and Emeli Sandé, that celebrity producer-star tie-ins can produce mutually respectful musical unions that still top charts – as Feel the Love and Waiting All Night did in the UK.

The weight of expectation hasn’t been lost on the band, a group of East London schoolfriend producers/musicians. The grammatically challenged We the Generation has been teased with a total of six singles in seven months – two featuring golden boy of the hour Ed Sheeran – which produces the odd effect of a new album of songs already half-familiar to astute listeners.

Rudimental struck gold with Home’s patented loud-quiet formula: restless drum‘n’bass beats driving ecstatic anthemic choruses, funk-flavoured grooves and punctuated horn flourishes. As the teasers made clear – openers I Will for Love and Never Let You Go especially – We the Generation offers no great departure.

Having helped launch the careers of Newman and Eyre, Rudimental have turned to the next generation of young UK soul singers, with Will Heard and touring member Anne-Marie guesting on four tracks apiece, including a steamy R&B/house duet Rumour Mill.

But the band now have pulling power – and they’ve used it. An old friend, Sheeran’s voice doesn’t quite suit Lay it All on Me, but the haunting new remix of Bloodstream – a tune written together, originally released on the singer’s LP X – is a moody, contemplative highlight.

Dizzee Rascal turns out a guest rap to rave-up Love ain’t Just a Word, while 17-year-old Brummie Mahalia offers her best sass-packed Amy Winehouse impression to complement the title track’s Afro-funk-flavoured strut. However, Eyre outclasses the younger competition on Too Cool.

Most hair-raising is a posthumous appearance from Bobby Womack. The producers prove their salt with the thick and funky closer New Day, utilising one of the late, great soulman’s final recordings with respect and ­restraint.

While the rule book hasn’t been rewritten, the sonic scope has been subtly expanded on this sprawling, if slightly bloated, 14-track set (or a Deluxe 18). Things are mellower and less focused than Home, with one too many forgettable, deep-house-influenced head nodders. There was little chance of hitting gold twice – Rudimental’s tricks aren’t new anymore. But while We the Generation fails to quite capture the festival-­ friendly, glow-stick-waving euphoria of the band’s live show, it’s hard to resist the record’s evergreen sunshine sounds.

rgarratt@thenational.ae