Rating: Aren’t bands supposed to take a mid-career hiatus or something – go off and do vanity solo projects, realise they were greater than the sum of their parts and return to deliver a mediocre pastiche of earlier work or an embarrassing pastiche of whatever the kids are doing? With the release of Tear The Place up the Allergies are now into a career six albums deep (if they were The Beatles, this would be their Rubber Soul!) and seem to possess a spider sense for avoiding music band cliché. Perhaps because they’re having too much fun. Perhaps it’s also because they are capable of embracing new directions and keeping things fresh without forgetting the styles with which they made their name. And Tear The Place up very much experiments with new directions (as recent singles and The Reconcile EP suggested it would) while dropping more than enough hip-hop, breaks and soul bangers to keep the most hardcore OG Allergies fan a happy bunny.
Let’s deal with the ‘new’ first. There’s Mash Up The Sound for example, the appropriately-named house beat-powered, dancehall vocal inflected club crowd pleaser as the second track. Then there’s the even more house-y Hypnotise – again – with dancehall-inflected stylings and once again, sure to capture a new crowd. Neither are the monkey’s cup of tea by any stretch but both are undeniably ‘large.’ The title track of the Reconcile EP plots another new course, finding Charles Morgan’s soulful rasp soaring over a lively, lilting blues-based beat and chords and the merest hint of psychedelic jazz in the occasional flutey trill, all wrapped up in a party breakbeat production style. A semi-companion track to this is the LP’s penultimate number and former single Treat Me Right a moody blues-influenced deal with breakbeat-type production. This LP’s title track is also a complete singularity – a surf guitar-type bassline so fast and heavy it’s become a speed metal one, gabba-speed percussion and erstwhile Ugly Duckling Andy Cooper doing his speed-rap thing – all because, well, he, and they, can.
Elsewhere it’s much more like business as usual. The Latin-influenced material that has crept into recent LPs can here be found in the Andy Cooper and Marietta Smith featuring-hip-bossa number for example and the boys’ ever reliable dancefloor-aimed soul breaks can be found on Never Gonna Let Go. It has to be said though, that this LP’s absolute highlights can be found in the hip-hop and the funk. One such cut is monster single Stanky Funk featuring original Pharcyde member Bootie Brown doing a grand job of evoking the full original Pharcyde crew on the highly funky and not un-Bizarre Ride II…- style beat. Equalling it is set opener Green Light, Go! – a monster mid-tempo funk-powered slab of party boom-bap – and for the monkey one of the best two cuts on the LP. The other best cut is right at the other end of the LP however and you can’t say these boys don’t keep it stank all the way to the end with this one’s closer allowing Marietta Smith to go it alone in full soul-sister mode on the super-funky Take Another Look At It which gains explosive funk propulsion by employing a Cold Sweat-ish percussive pattern. In fact, I think this might even be my favourite cut of all. Any chance of a 45 featuring this and Green, Light, Go! Jalapeno? I’ll go further – this must come out on 45 – it’s a bona fide contemporary sister-funk classic! Consider the place torn up!
(Out now on Jalapeno Records)