Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Album Review: The F Bomb by Sonic Boom Six

If ever the words 'long awaited' were 100% appropriate it's for the eventual release of The F Bomb by Sonic Boom Six. Due to reasons out of the band's control the release was seemingly delayed and delayed, but thankfully after a lot of hard work and perseverance from the band the album was released on the band's own Rebel Alliance Recordings. I just hope it was worth the wait.

The F Bomb begins with the instant sing along, No Man No Right. As much as I loved the band's use of more electronic music on their previous album, the sound of ska on this track is a welcome one. When I first heard this song live back in March it had me skanking immediately and the lyrics "No Man No Right" got a big reaction from the outset. The song is about how no man has any right to tell a woman what to do. Laila K is in phenomenal form vocally on this song as she not only leads the band with an important message but in a big party as well. Sonic Boom Six have a great skill of taking an important issue and educating people but also having a lot of fun in the process. Another big issue is addressed in the next track, Frying Pan. The issue of racism towards immigrants is sadly and disgustingly still a big issue in this country and Sonic Boom Six tackle the subject head on. It tells the story of Johnny who is struggling to get a job, falls in with a bad crowd who brainwash him into thinking "They Are Coming Over Here To Take What's Yours." Musically the ska continues but it's less of a party atmosphere on this one. It's fantastic to hear some horns reintroduced into the band's sound. The horns continue on the next song - summer banger Do What You Wanna Do. Combining horns and samples is what Sonic Boom Six do best and this song is an instant classic in my mind. This is the first time on The F Bomb that Barney Booms rapping skills come into play and it injects a lot of energy into the song. It's also the first time when Barney and Laila really team up for the vocal duties, something that's been a big feature in the band's sound since its inception. A particular highlight on the song is when the duo take turns to sing the chorus line of "Do What You Wanna Do." Like I said - instant classic.

Drop The Bass (And Pick It Up) begins with a sample of the legendary Skatelites song Guns Of Navarone and Barney's fantastic rapping again takes centre stage. I'm not a fan of rap music but I do really enjoy Barney Boom's skill at "spitting lines." (I think that's what the kids call it?). This song is not one with a big message, instead it's a song about having a great time when you're at the club and the bass line drops. Not every song has to be about what is wrong with the world, at times it can just be about having a wonderful time. That's certainly what I'm having when I'm listening to this song. A familiar voice is heard at the beginning of the fifth song Train Leaves Tomorrow. Long time SB6 collaborator Coolie Ranx lends his toasting ability to a slower paced reggae track. Laila retakes lead vocal duties and her voice is nothing other than beautiful throughout. The band show off their ability as musicians and songwriters, going from a big party club song to a sweet and tender reggae pop song. L.O.V.E., surprisingly, goes down a bit of a disco route. Sonic Boom Six even do disco well! It's a toe tapping, hip shaker of a song when Laila's vocals again do an incredible job. I don't think her vocals have ever been better than they are on The F Bomb. The track talks about how society always being at odds with each other isn't working and how we should stand for something new - namely love. Everyone coming together and working as a unit – doesn't sound like that difficult a concept to me. The song Worship Yourself is a track about learning to stand up for yourself in a abusive relationship. Lyrically the song is very moving and features some extremely blunt and honest imagery. I often think that Laila and Barney and really underrated as songwriters and lyricists.

Another example of their amazing skill of songwriting is in the following track, Joanna. I have a sneaking suspicion that this song was written not long after Laura Jane Grace came out as a transgender woman in 2012. The song tells the story of the character, Joanna, who bravely also comes out as a transgender woman. Laila and Barney sing about the admiration of Joanna, how brave she is and what a role model she is. This is another slower paced reggae track. It's so uplifting and feels perfect for the summer. The penultimate song on The F Bomb is titled All The Same To Me. Guitarist Nick Horne really comes to the forefront on this song with some fantastic guitar riffs throughout. All The Same To Me is one of the poppier songs on the album. It's very easy to listen to and manages to squeeze all of the different SB6 styles into the song without it ever feeling forced. There's a bit of ska, a bit of electronic, some hip hop, and some really catchy lyrics that you will be singing to yourself for days. The final song on the album is the very atmospheric Echoes In The Dark. The song is about a girl that is sexually abused by an older boy but somehow finds the strength to move on past such a traumatic experience. Again, wonderfully combining the worlds of electronica and ska, laying down a perfect platform for Laila to beautifully sing a song about overcoming a difficult time in your life. Echoes in The Dark is a very, very moving song.

I said at the beginning of this review that I hoped that after such a long wait for the album it would be worth it. It definitely is and then some. I love everything Sonic Boom Six have ever released and I can honestly say this is as good if not better than anything they've done before. I loved that they went for more of an old school Boom sound whilst mixing some of the style they used on later albums. Could this be the definitive Sonic Boom Six Album?

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