Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Madu - 2011 - From The Elders' Yard

Jazz/ Indie Folk
<a href="http://retrosonic.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 11 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: We Are ManyKillaloe 
Madu is many things: soulful, jazzy, ponderous, but funnily enough, their greatest strength is their lightness. For all their levity, the band still pack a pretty hefty punch when they need to, but their primary mode seems to be brassy and tropical, splashed with just a touch of the exotic. Even the artwork is splashed with touches of humor—there’s a different image for every song, and some are hilarious (the one for “The Deceiver” is just a speech bubble with LIES printed over it, while the one for “We Are Many” takes great pains to make sure everybody gets its title). This approach could have led to a fun but fluffy piece of work, but the top-notch vocal work from Aminah Dastan, paired with chilling melodic lines and thought-provoking lyrics, elevates the music to an even higher standard. My biggest concern is related to where Madu go from here, though; at times the album’s focus almost seems a touch too narrow. The instrumentation, though lush and layered, feels derivative because many of the same musical motifs—mellow guitar licks, groovy drum lines, vaguely psychedelic production—are repeated throughout the album’s 11 songs, and at times the whole thing bleeds together a bit too much. That said, what’s on display here inspires a fair amount of confidence. This is a band with much more going on underneath than their breeziness would suggest.

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