ALBUM REVIEW: The Kabeedies – Soap

Written for DIY

As we write this, it looks like Spring has not exactly sprung so much, but has begun to stir; temperatures around the country have begun to rise, the clouds are parting, the cold winter has started to thaw. We’re not saying that the release of a new Kabeedies album is directly responsible for the early change in season, but it can’t be a complete coincidence, can it?

Listening to the Kabeedies whilst navigating ice-slicked streets and clad in mittens just wouldn’t do. Not least of all because it’d difficult to tap your feet without slipping over onto your behind, and iPods are hard to navigate when your fingers are hidden beneath wool. Mostly, though, it’s because they are a resolutely summer time band. Notice we’re going to lengths not to describe them as “afro-beat” (despite their propensity towards syncopated rhythms and stretched pronunciation of vowels), because that would put people off.

That said, the band themselves do acknowledge both Paul Simon circa Graceland and Vampire Weekend as influences on both them and this second album. Soap, much like its predecessor Rumpus, is a smorgasbord of calypso drums, funk-tinged basslines, choppy guitars and the like. (We must admit, “Santiago” is a still a nice dip into this Kabeedies of old, with some lovely ska horns and a riotous pace to it).

Unlike Rumpus, on Soap the band’s usual stories of debauched Norwich-based fun are viewed through sun-strained eyes. “We might as well do this properly / Take its body down to the sea / This Imperial Mess is bloated at best” sings Katie Allard on “Hang Ups Of The West”. This album trawls more widely, dragging up themes and content unheard of from the band before. It also brought up some accordion playing, but you can’t win ‘em all.

A welcome change is the continue development of the group’s vocal interplay, which begins in classic indie-pop shrill call-and-response at the beginning of the album – so as not to totally alienate fans of Rumpus – before settling into something more subtle, warm, most notably on album highlight “Bones”.

Rumpus was like the sort of pre-university holidays taken by teenagers who want sun, sea, sand, with a bit of drinking and heavy petting. Soap is more like a vacation spent in similar weather conditions, going on guided tours round historical landmarks. You can still pack your sun lotion and swim wear, but expect to be a little more challenged.



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