Veteran roots reggae and digi-dancehall stylists team up with a contemporary powerhouse to craft punchy summer bangers whilst pushing their ravenous sound forward in subtly refreshing ways.
Since forming in 2000, the Glasgow reggae sound system collective known as Mungo’s Hi Fi have become a synonym for open-minded, welcoming and curious musical collaborations, as typified by their latest, genre-melding album release, More Fyah.
This ten-track opus pits the internationally acclaimed crew’s latest sparring partner, the Bristol-based MC and singer Eva Lazarus, against their trademark 1980’s-inflected cyber-dancehall, ska and dub productions for a thrilling and dexterous synthesis which combines emotional tumult, majestic melodies and swooping, echo-treated FX with refreshing twists on crowd-pleasingly familiar material. It’s an exuberant, sun-kissed set which compounds each other’s strengths and adds a modern slant to a well-worn sound without sacrificing or diluting any of their respective talents.
Dub Be Good To Me opens this collection with a fairly straightforward, loping rocksteady take on the Beats International classic; here the sassy Lazarus brings a sultry, purring touch to Mungo’s digitally enhanced, all-enveloping sprawl.
On the exhilarating, bass-wobbling Babylon Raid, Mungo’s cannily weave a sample of Max Romeo’s Three Blind Mice around Lazarus’s furious attack on heavy-handed police tactics. The title track is a scorching ragga party banger seemingly custom-built for summer barbeques, whilst the hooky Live My Life encapsulates the vocalist’s versatility, summoning heart-swelling and incandescent moods in equal measure.
The piano-adorned lilt of Amsterdam switches the mood to one of introspection as the singer recounts a lonely though empowering trip to the Dutch capital following a relationship breakdown, and the bouncy ska tune, We Weren’t Made For This, pulls listeners in with its playful swing. On the exquisite dancehall pop of Light As A Feather, Lazarus skilfully trades verses with the London reggae artist Kiko Bun, their mellifluous voices swooping over the clank, slink and grind of Mungo’s cavernous rhythms.
At times the mix of grit and honey edges towards the saccharine, but this is a welcome addition to the Mungo’s Hi Fi canon: an invigorating meeting of minds which locates a slick soulfulness amidst the bass bombast, a record that’s rife with energy.
By Michael Sumsion