It’s been a while since New Town Kings were assaulting the airwaves with their infectious brand of reggae-tinged ska. Since their second album M.O.J.O. and a fairly relentless touring schedule, they’ve had a bit of an issue with frontmen, replacing former vocalist Chris with the enigmatic Dabs Bonner. The result is this outstanding four-track EP.
Much more politically charged than their previous outings, Pull Up & Rewind is a fairly daring record. Lead single ‘Change’ is trad ska at its best, and is surprisingly intricate given its simple structure. Dabs’ vocals are absolutely spot on, and it’s really refreshing to hear a song of this nature calling for positive change, rather than just being a standard rant against the authorities. It’s about having to move forward – a sentiment that New Town Kings have no doubt had to embrace in the past 12 months. Although I keep expecting the track to speed up, but it never does. It doesn’t need to – it still manages to retain its power as an upbeat, but slow jam. ‘Luna Rosa’ meets my demands for speed, and the dual vocal approach in this reggae love song is really fun. I’m glad to see that New Town Kings have retained that same sense of fun that made their last two records so great. As far as the sound goes, it’s not a huge progression on M.O.J.O. but they already had that nailed. However, each song is tighter, and there’s more of that reggae flair coming through. Plus there’s some fantastic keys in tracks like ‘Grabbed My Hand’, some clever lyrics and perfect summer vibes. It’s punk for people who don’t like punk – ‘Cool The Pressure Down’ does a great job of hiding a wider political agenda under sweet ska rhythms and some bloody fantastic trumpets.
New Town Kings might have been testing the waters a little bit with Pull Up & Rewind, but have come back swinging to let everyone know that they’re still one of the best ska bands in the UK today, if not the world. Their next album is due out by the end of the year – if it’s anything like this, it is going to be massive.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!