Review: Band Mango – Lifelong Contract

Scandinavia has been a productive spawning ground for new and interesting music for a long time now – their Black and Doom metal is well known, and propositions like Meshuggah and Kvelertak are making waves across the heavy and extreme music scenes right across Europe. They do a lucrative line in pop and post-punk too. As we also know. Not heard much from the states across the Baltic Sea though – so this brand new maxi-EP’s worth of Latvian Ska-Punk is an intro (for me anyway) to what their neighbours have to say for themselves.

And so. Band name is goofy as. But this is not material meant to be taken too seriously. In the packet you get all the usual ingredients: brass (i.e. sax and horns), guitars, infectious percussion – and energy. Lots of energy. Energy is perhaps the defining quality of Ska-P. Which is why Operation Ivy’s timeless and genre-defining classic “Energy” was called just that. So already, we’re away.

The sound is thick and well-produced – it’s not as hard-edged or as abrasive as say, Random Hand, and definitely more at the Fishbone / Reel Big Fish end of the spectrum. The vocals are all in all rather clean, there’s minimal distortion to the guitars and overall this is a bit like the Blues Brothers do Emo. The vocalist puts me right in mind of the big-faced lad out of Fallout Boy. And nothing wrong with that. All in all I categorise this as: Bouncy Baltic Emo-Ska.

Categories and taxonomy can get tedious – and let’s face it, it’s all about the music, maaan. And it is. Lyrically this is boy-meets-girl, love your ‘hood type of fare (no different to Mighty Mighty Bosstones then) – and all good-natured and pace-y. Standout tracks are five (I stole the best years of your life): an almost metallic quality to the ska here; and six (The Game): spritely and tight with particularly sweet horn work.
In sum – bouncy, bright, feel good and upbeat, and hope this release opens doors so they can start cutting it more widely across the euro festival circuit.

Oh, and play Worcester. Go on. Dare ya.

4 out of 5 high fives!

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