Since the likes of Prince Buster formed the first Jamaican Sound System back in the 60’s, ‘Ska’ has seen many periodic ‘revivals’ over the decades, evolving and fusing with the latest musical trends as it ebbs and flows. While often lyrically wrapped up in political angst there’s nevertheless an incredibly upbeat yet melancholy edge to Ska that makes it a movement like no other. Ska is a sound that has never gone away and always manages to sound fresh and current.
Yet aside from obvious exceptions such as Skindred, Madness and No Doubt, (among others who borrow heavily from Ska) many bands fall into the same trap of cliched Ska tropes. It was therefore with some trepidation that I ventured into the depths of ‘To The Moon’ the latest offering from Popes Of Chillitown.
Ska/Dub/Punk are the genres that Popes Of Chillitown describe themselves as on their Facebook page and it’s spot on. From the first track Vamos a la Luna is, as I feared, loaded with over-used Ska devices but what’s this? There’s a memorable tune there and it’s not hidden beneath layer after layer of stereotypical chinks and chimes.
However the melody on Mummy’s Busy does get a bit lost but third track OPOOM delights. Impatient, Voluntary Execution and Too Much offer much of the same. There’s a little break for Otherside and 14 Time shines with a heavier dub vibe. Wisdom Teeth is another track that gets a bit lost but Hey You provides a nice change of pace. Final track Every Day pretty much sums this album up; awesome musicianship with flashes of great melody but suffocated by not being bold enough to gain a signature sound.
When Green Day hit with Dookie they took references from the music they listened to and made it their own. There is evidence on tracks such as Vamos a la Luna, OPOOM and 14 Time that Popes Of Chillitown could do the same trick and bring a bit of magic back into the scene. As it stands To The Moon is an energetic album and will be a good addition to any fan of the genre. Others who are not as invested in this scene will find little to entice them in. Even though I’m a harsh critic I still find that there’s plenty of potential here if only Popes Of Chillitown can find their own voice.
As it stands To The Moon is an energetic album and will be a good addition to any fan of the genre. Others who are not as invested in this scene will find little to entice them in.