Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose, Plan B’s first full-length release in six years and first proper album in eight, doesn’t feature any rapping. Instead, he delivers an LP of soulful songs with the help of songwriters who have also written for Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran. The result is a mixed bag.
Lead single Heartbeat sports determined if cliched lyrics about taking his own path (“I’m just listening to my heartbeat, to the tune… / …can’t be changing up the rhythm just for you”) and production that shoots for anthemic but ends up sounding a bit Radio 2. Stranger laments a crumbling relationship to plodding drums and piano.
A more explicitly political middle section gives the album some needed direction, with It’s A War attacking societal inequality and Guess Again taking aim at the police and right-wing politicians, while Flesh & Bone revisits the issue of Plan B’s absent father while referencing back to 2006’s I Don’t Hate You.
These tracks are the best interpretation of what Plan B in 2018 should sound like, but too many other moments on Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose – Queue Jumping, Pursuit Of Happiness, Grateful – sound generic and directionless. In the latter songs, he stops being the distinctive artist who broke through with hard-hitting tracks like Kids and No Good and becomes just another face in the pop crowd channelling Rag’N’Bone Man for some quick chart success. This is a huge shame.