The best thing that happened to Blur was Damon Albarn moving on to a production project like Gorillaz. By no means have Superfood ‘copied’, but when you bring out a Brit-pop album 20 years after the genre’s high, you’d better not follow it up with a Brit-pop album.
Jaws hit the floor when the Birmingham indie-kids dropped ‘Double Dutch’ back in February. None of us knew that synthesizers and samples were what those catchy Don’t Say That hooks needed – none bar Dom Ganderton and Ryan Malcolm.
Still there was scepticism. Why? We’ve been let down before, that’s why. Promising indie bands pulling out a one-song-and-ten-rip-offs album aren’t unheard of (I’m looking at you Catfish and the Bottlemen).
Then May brought the triumphant ‘I Can’t See’, which was about the point it was clear we could get excited for Bambino, the duo’s second feature length outing. Coupling some classic elements from the Superfood utility belt with a mellow dub-jam laid out the carpet for the oncoming album to effortlessly flaunt its groove. On Bambino we’re looped in and out of sampled funk like a needle through cloth, with the respite of familiar guitar riffs pulling us through safely. For every funk-ridden breakdown there’s an irresistible sing-along; for every disjointed spoken-word sample there’s a toe-tapping bassline craving attention.
Simply put, there’s a refreshing sense of the unknown without ever plunging us into the darkness of the deep end. ‘Witness’ and ‘Shadow’ could be straight off Dont Say That if they weren’t sandwiched by ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘Clo Park’, and hugging around loopy, discordant interlude ‘lov’.
Moreover, any good album needs a flawless chunk of adrenaline to carry you through the dreaded midriff of the album – right in the slot so often reserved for passive fillers. Tracks 5, 6 and 7 (‘Natural Supersoul’, ‘Need a Little Spider’, and ‘Raindance’ respectively) are the 2am uppers to make it to sunrise.
Progressing maturity is a par for the course discussion when a band comes back after three years, but in this case it has to be said that this album makes Don’t Say That look juvenile. Bambino reeks of cool, and what’s more it segues from their heavily Brit-pop influenced debut into a well thought out, relevant and original piece of work.
Words: Rupert Taylor