New Town Kings are a breath of fresh air. The nine piece reggae/ska act from Colchester have got something wonderful in M.O.J.O, their new album. M.O.J.O, standing for Music Of Jamaican Origin is a highly apt name – the album’s got a great laidback Caribbean feel. It’s catchy chillout kind of stuff and we love it.
First track, Games That People Play hooks you in immediately, with its summery sound and surprisingly sardonic lyrics. Throughout the album, the focus is on the brass, a much stronger influence in their sound than in most British ska at the moment; the scene tending to opt for a harder punk edge. However, the fusion approach works incredibly well for New Town Kings. It’s refreshing and diverse. Following track Stop and in fact, most of the album takes a similar upbeat format to Games That People Play, but there’s some blinders in Dynamite and New Town Hop, both of which take a slightly darker tone to the previous tracks. Dynamite in particular is great for dancing and my favourite track on the album, due to its impressive brass section. New Town Hop is a mostly instrumental affair, or as vocalist Chris Watts professes, ‘this is a ting called ska in a New Town stylee!’ and it most certainly is! New Town Kings are completely individual in a highly dub/punk dominated ska scene at the moment.
The band are great storytellers as well, with songs like Steal For His Bread and Stringalong giving that Jamaican ballad feel. Although it’s easy to just let it play in the background, the lyrics are most definitely worth a listen. This isn’t the most political band of them all, but there’s a definite edge to their lyrics, one which should be taken notice of.
Perhaps my one criticism of the album is that the songs become highly familiar after a while. Although there’s plenty of variety within the album, the track order doesn’t really highlight this too well by putting a lot of similar songs together, hence when a track like Dynamite or New Town Hop comes along, it takes you completely by surprise. This is a virtue in its own right, but this album doesn’t deserve to be background music, though it may provide the perfect summer soundtrack. Nevertheless, if this is your view throughout most of the album, then final track Brighter Days will certainly make you stand up and take notice – a song with a brilliantly positive message and some super sweet key changes. More guitar based than the rest, it rounds the album off perfectly.
The band are on tour right now, and it’d be worth checking them out. The songs on M.O.J.O would surely sound sublime live. This is just the kind of album I’ve been looking for. And it’s out now. Sorted.
4 out of 5 high fives!