With No Problem, production comes first – great songs can wait.Xavier de Rosnay of Justice has taken joint duties with PeterFranco in giving Jamaica’s debut an edge and, naturally, they’ve helpedmuster up a unique pop record without too much fuss.
There’s pride in each millisecond; jaunty, blink-and-you-missed-itsamples and snappy bass grooves that bite are integrated into everyone of the French duo (Antoine Hilaire & Flo Lyonnet)’s sweetlydelivered early-evening jams. And the guitars find new ways ofexpression within each number; tremolo-driven in The Outsider,acoustic but razor sharp in Short And Entertaining and more resemblinga synth line the rest of the time.
The apparent appeal of No Problem is that synths have been shunnedentirely. The live ethos of “No synthesizers will be involved” has,according to the press release, been replicated on record, although you’llwonder about this; Secrets, for instance, has a choruscontaining what 99% of people would declare to be a squeaky-clean setof keyboard chords. No synths? perhaps. No keys? They’re surely lying.
You can’t help thinking that both the “no synths” claim and theJustice-esque production are joint partners in distracting thelistener from the quality of the record itself. Delve deeper andyou’re likely to unearth a distinct lack of great songs. It’s commonknowledge that each of No Problem’s assets are catchy, thriving withsmooth and classic melodies.
What’s lacking is a little somethingtaking the songs to the next level. It’s short of somethingexceptional; for all of Cross The Fader’s punch and gloss it stillfeels like a rowdy gig opener and nothing more. And whilst I Think ILike U 2 gives good game to a stylish ’80s homage, its slightly nattytone and tune puts you off.
But then we go back to the production. Thanks to those on the desk,No Problem excels as a straight-up party record. There’s a childishcharisma taking centre stage and when it’s required, Jamaica can gofrom tame to hyped-up and danceable with the click of the fingers.There’s something reminiscent of Justice in this album in that whenlistening to it, you can envisage the songs being the soundtrack to asweaty two hours in a festival tent, accompanied by an intense lightshow and ground-shaking bass levels.
That’s not to say this comes across like a second rate version ofCross, Justice’s first long-player. Hilaire and Lyonnet strut withconfidence, aware that this body of work will get the heart racing andthe feet moving. It’s an album of fiendish tricks and distractions, and those distractions are what’ll lure the crowd towards NoProblem.