After Tinie Tempah used a quick minute-or-so burst of Amen breaks to end his hugenumber one single ‘Pass Out’, drum and bass suddenly seemed like something the mainstream could fathom – even if it was using guerilla tactics to slip into the charts. It’s never been entirely removed, nor accepted, but your average punters drum and bass knowledge rarely seems to exceed Pendulum. Enter Blame, whose début album The Music marks a sound in drum and bass perhaps as likely to please a student night as it is to please a crowd of drum and bass fans.
Achieving this sound is no mean feat, but Blame achieves it through a combination of soulful vocals, rap, and a sharply produced, euphoric sound. Yet there seems to be a sense of underachievment that permeates the album.
Blame’s real problem could very realistically be his selection of guest vocalists. Female vocalists JT Fitz, Selah and Jenna G fit perfectly into his post-90’s dance, David-Guetta-and-bass sound, imbuing the familiar bleeps and euphoric patterns with strong soul, albeit coupled with some slightly cliched lyricism, but the men fare considerably worse. It’s hard to listen to Ruff Sqwad in ‘On My Own’ without the words “Chipmunk” or “Tinchy Stryder” popping into your head, and as for Tom Sears on ‘Whispers Into Screams’ – it’s genuinely quite difficult to comprehend exactly how such sub-pendulum pub singer vocals made it onto this album, but the chances are the less discerning listener will lap up the mediocrity.
Yet at the heart of The Music, beyond these ultimately forgiveable mistakes, sits a thoroughly enjoyable set of tracks. Blame’s production is energetic and definitely guarantees a frantic reaction on the dance floor, whilst tracks like ‘Alright’ have been gifted those killer killer hooks that make or break a big tune in this more pop-orientated area of Drum and Bass. The excellent ‘Stakeout’ is a nod to the darker sounds in drum and bass. A sinister funk bass drives sparse drums forward whilst DRS’ rhymes flow over the top. It’s a shame that the album has few of these moments considering Blame’s aptitude for forming them. Tracks like ‘Goldmine’ and ‘Let It Go’ make for some easily listening, combining the sort of carefree, summery drum and bass that DJ Marky made a phenomena with the excellent ‘LK’ and ‘Barcelona’. Purists will be underhwhelmed but not unimpressed, as The Music has enough moments to lift Blame’s first effort above par.
The Music is out July 5th on New State Music, you can listen to the debut single ‘On My Own’ here