Rudimental’s massive Number 1 single Feel The Love was one of last year’s more refreshing chart hits, and the East London four-piece’s success is as encouraging as it is unexpected. From their primitive beginnings with influential independent label Black Butter, the Hackney based group have cultivated a following based on organic development and appreciation of the importance of community and knowing where they came from. Despite developing a rich sound that encompasses all facets of urban music, Rudimental’s long anticipated debut album Home only shows flashes of reaching the same heights as their quite brilliant debut hit.
Home is very much the work of a collective. There is no star in Rudimental. In a way they are reminiscent of a more pop tinged Massive Attack, their ethos much the same. As the album title and cover artwork of a mural in Hackney exemplify, this is an album based on a close, tight-knit vibe. Indeed, the group talk of creating the album in their own East London studio with the help of their “extended family” of friends and collaborators. This extended family features throughout the album as guest stars both unheralded and chart storming feature. For the most part the guests are well chosen. John Newman’s striking soulful voice provides the hook that lifts both Feel The Love and Not Giving In above their frenetic drum ‘n’ bass pop sound into something that is wonderfully euphoric and joyous. These moments of upbeat expression are showstopping.
For all that Feel The Love and further Number 1 success Waiting All Night stand out, it is probably to the detriment of some of the other weaker moments here. Nothing else really quite reaches the level of those outstanding singles. Songs begin encouragingly before getting bogged down in rather needless over emoting, and much of the middle part of the album featuring RnB ballads like Hide, featuring Sinead Hartnett, and Powerless, featuring Becky Hill, is disappointingly dull.
Elsewhere, on the more upbeat tracks the plentiful good ideas and hooks suffer from a slight lack of musical nous, Right Here, featuring vocals from Foxes, has a nice understated hook and bubbling rhythms but rather loses its way in a mass of noodly guitars that sound more like Biffy Clyro than anything else. There’s often a feeling that they are trying to cram a bit too much in.
Rudimental are far better when they are stripped back and allow their natural organic skills to shine. Early track Spoons, featuring MNEK and Syron, is a pared down joy. The beats are deft and understated as the group explore a deeper groove. A further highlight again features vocals from MNEK; Baby is perhaps the most successful club track here. Featuring a lovely groove, it is an almost deep house club track that returns Rudimental to their earliest club based sounds.
On an album full of guest turns from artists with a long-standing connection to the group, it is interesting that the best guest spot comes from a newcomer from a distinctly different background. Michigan rapper Angel Haze’s quick fire rhyme spitting gives Hell Could Freeze a welcome shot of energy and intensity. Angel Haze’s strung out rhymes offer a stark contrast to the impassioned vocals of Emeli Sandé who features on two songs towards the end. While there is certainly a presence to her voice, the gospel-tinged anthem of empowerment that is Free provides an unsatisfying end to the album.
Rudimental have already shown on their tremendously successful singles that they have that special knack for making exciting and diverse pop. Sadly on Home it is a knack that we hear too little of. Still, this is an album that does suggest promise and shows that Rudimental are unlikely to be a flash in the pan.