Recently we saw Slaves revitalise punk-rock, a genre that’s been fairly ‘distant’ from pop music as of late. In that very same school of thought comes Gentleman’s Dub Club- a nine-piece dub collective from Leeds. Despite being around for a while now, it’s more recently that their name has began to spring up at an array of UK festivals, in which making a name for themselves as one of the most energetic and unparalleled live performances out there. With their reputation and stake in pop music on the up, it makes the perfect time to drop their fourth studio album- The Big Smoke.
You know an album is a good one when you’ve spent the last 45 minutes (ish) swaying your head carelessly, soaking up the vibes. From the opener to the ultimately chill finale, nothing except positivity and good feelings are conveyed from producer to consumer, so much so that these roles are lost in the abyss of riffs and sax toots. However, while reggae is all you might expect, reggae is not all you get. The near-minimalist low-key stylings of Afraid of The Dark, the electronica-infused downtempo Enter The Chamber, or the glorious sun-kissed ska-styled Earthquake, The Big Smoke is an effortless yet exciting listen.
Modern twists and contemporary sparks are worked delicately into the project, such as with the guitar solo on Music Is The Girl I Love, the eerie build to Pressure, or the pitter-patter on piano on Earthquake- The Big Smoke is much more than a homage to the reggae greats. Brass accompaniment is a heavily featured and heavily welcomed aspect to Gentleman’s Dub Club’s style, with the saxophone creating floaty transitions between the array of sounds on the album. The brass solo on Nocturnal being one of the album’s many highlights.
The Big Smoke is a pleasurable chilled-out listen. As the title, artwork and overall aura would suggest, this is an album to light up to. Every so often I squint and double-take at the odd loose vocal from one of the group’s vocalists, but other than that The Big Smoke is an tightly-perfected album. Like I said at the beginning with Slaves’ rejuvenation of punk-rock, it’s good to see a contemporary twist on another ‘lost’ genre, and Gentleman’s Dub Club have well and truly captured the essence of dub, while making it their own at the same time.
Verdict – WWWW