By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
It’s been nearly four years since the release of Brand New Machine, but it’s fair to say that Chase & Status haven’t been sat at home with their feet up. Headlining and filling venues across the world, coupled with a generous handful of festival appearances, including a headline appearance at Lovebox Festival earlier this year.
But now, they’re back with their hotly anticipated fourth album, Tribe, and it’s exactly what you’ve come to expect from Saul, Will and Rage; heavy drum and bass tracks, appearances from some of the biggest and brightest stars, big man skankin’ to create a musical pick and mix that’ll rot your teeth and blow out your eardrums.
One criticism with Tribe is that it’s seventeen tracks, and over an hour long, which, can get a bit mealy. Sure, it’s a musical pick and mix, but you don’t want to spend over an hour eating sweets, it’s too much. Sometimes you’ve just gotta leave a few tracks on the cutting room floor or throw them into a deluxe edition.
However, it’s more than worth it when you pull out a cherry cola bottle like Nervous or a jelly snake like NRG featuring Novelist, which is a jelly snake with a filthy guitar riff. Another, well, it’s not really a criticism, it feels like a couple of tracks feel out of place. Nervous featuring veteran hype man MC Rage should be the growing album opener, with Love Me More featuring Emile Sande should be the blockbuster album closer, but this is really just hair splitting as they’re fantastic tracks wherever they end up. But that being said, dancehall-esque Big Man Skank featuring Mr Vegas is a fantastic curtain yanker, which leads into the yuuuuuge, literally grimey Dubplate Original featuring grime superstar Kano.
On that note above, Love Me More is definitely one of the standout tracks on the album, along with the beautifully soulful All Goes Wrong featuring Tom Grennan, sticking to the long held policy of mixing in headline names with some of the hottest new music talents, but producing the same banging track. Some of the more chart-focused-not-that-dirty-D&B tracks on this album would finish the album in the top half of the league.
One of the surprising tracks on the album is Reload, not because it’s featuring comeback kid Craig David, but because it’s a track where the names Chase, Status and Craig David show up, but one where it’s not that good. It feels a bit clunky, but this is a pick and mix bag, and sometimes you’ve got to pull out a foamy shrimp. It’s just the way it is. You might like a foamy shrimp, however, so don’t despair. Relegation candidates in this league, mind you.
Something that should be celebrated about this album, rather than chided, is indeed the cross-genre pick and mix. Chase & Status have made their minds up, they want to create thumping, dirty drum and bass bangers whilst getting in the rising soul singers for some blockbuster chart risers. Why the hell not? No More Idols especially proved that Chase & Status are able to keep people skanking on the bassline whilst creating tracks that receive mainstream radio play at the same time. It means your mum can sing along to All Goes Wrong whilst not long after, you can get down and dirty in the moshpit to a song like Control featuring Slaves. Title track Tribes is some of that nutty, crazy drum and bass we all so sorely crave from Chase & Status.
A few tracks on this album are somewhat average, a high grade D to a low C; Step Away, In This Moment and Know About We aren’t terrible tracks, you’re just not going to find yourself going back for more. But when your album is seventeen tracks long, the laws of averages kick in and well, you can’t hit every track for six now can you? However, with that in mind, Crawling has been hit for at least a four.
Overall, this is a good old bag of musical pick and mix, sure there’s a foamy shrimp and a jelly bean (come on, you know pick and mix jelly beans are shit), but that’s what it’s all about sometimes. But there’s fizzy cola bottles, jelly snakes, strawberries and those blue/pink cola bottles too! There are a lot of sweets so it can get a bit sickly, but just don’t have them all at once. Enjoy a few at a time, and you’ll find that Tribe was worth the four year wait!
Don’t eat four year old sweets.