Purveyors of peopleâs pleasure, The Nextmen and Gentlemanâs Dub Club have succeeded in producing an album that will linger on sound systems for many moons to come.
Any album that features The Nextmen, Gentlemanâs Dub Club, Hollie Cook, Kiko Bun, Eva Lazarus and Joe Dukie (Fat Freddyâs Drop) is one for the history books. Not only collective in its production, but also in spirit, Pound for Pound
came to fruition thanks to the help of a successful Pledge campaign. Smashing their fundraising target, Leeds-to-London dub group Gentlemanâs Dub Club and groove riders The Nextmen were able to self-release the 12-track album last Friday, much to the delight of their loyal following
Gentlemanâs Dub Club really have taken the helm of the ship, steering the winding grooves of opener âHighs and Lowsâ while Joe Dukie adds a splash of funk to the mix. Dukieâs raspy vocals float heavenly above brass elements, tight drums and an infectiously swaggering bassline. Itâs impossible not to fall in love with this track, which has a bright future as a summer afternoon BBQ jam, set on repeat.
âSpookyâ incorporates the best aspects of ska and dub; a spin on The Specials âGhost Townâ riff with a piercing keyboard twist; echoing vocals that fade smoothly into the steady backing drum beat and Hollie Cookâs balmy tone. Cookâs vocals blend masterfully into a mellow beat, her voice trailing off languidly at the end of each chorus: âThe ghost of you is there / In my spooky love affair / I hope that you still care / About a spooky love affairâ. While itâs no out-and-out anthem, âSpookyâ is a quietly understated track that certainly stands tall amongst the rest.
Released as a single ahead of the album drop, âRudeboyâ is propelled by Bristol lyricist and bass heavyweight Gardna. A chanting chorus âMama didnât raise this rudeboy / He was raised in the danceâ is masterfully engineered for the festival stage â itâs nigh on impossible not to test the limits of the speakers with this track. Exploiting deep brass and warbling samples feels distinctly Gentlemanâs Dub Club, but Gardna carves his own space in the song with sharp, quick-fire lyrics.
At the albumâs mid-section, Kiko Bun adds dashes of satirical spice to the mix. âSee You Next Tuesdayâ, a twinkling and up-tempo track, oozes adolescent summertime joy in Kiko Bunâs childlike la la laâs. A frequent collaborator on Pound for Pound, his later two tracks âCounty Lineâ and âDone It Againâ are refreshingly dissimilar. Heâs a chameleon of the genres; while âCounty Lineâ sits comfortably in classic 90s reggae, âDone It Againâ explores a more contemporary avenue by adding subtle electronic essences and frank, speak-song lyricism.
Crooning vocals open for Eva Lazarusâ first collaboration âMisty Eyesâ. Tinged with rebellious flirtation (âMisty eyes I know what youâre looking for / Misty eyes I know what you needâ) the back-and-forth between Lazarus and Gentlemanâs Dub Club lead vocalist Jonathan turns a steady, slow burner into a sexy exchange. âRunning Scaredâ continues in the same vein, inviting frequent collaborator with Mungoâs Hi Fi, Parly B, into the jam session. Lazarus is given space to entice and excite with her sooty tone.
Closing out Pound for Pound, Eva Lazarus and Gardna kick start an evolution of traditional reggae sound â bursting with cheeky dub flavour and steady rolling bass, âPristineâ is the product of crystal clear vision and excellent production from The Nextmen and Gentlemanâs Dub Club.
Pound for Pound
Â encapsulates all that British reggae has to offer: collective, jubilant grooves. Reggae has always had an open and inclusive philosophy, compiling collaborative experiences and sounds to create definitive feel-good music. The sheer volume of collaborators on this album just goes to show itâs a community-driven album that boasts some of the best work from reggae veterans and up-and-comers alike. Eva Lazarus and Hollie Cook offer their rebellious, feminine touch to Parly B, Gardna and J Manâs bolshy, swaggering social commentaries; while Joe Dukie brings a touch of vintage excellence to offset Kiko Bunâs ever-evolving modern vision. Pound for Pound
is a real pleasure from start to finish, thatâs set to linger across festival stages all summer long.