With guest performers like Gnarls Barkley‘s Cee-Lo Green and Kano (as well as prominent Jamaican performers like Lady Saw), Next could well be the album that really brings them to prominence in the UK after nine years performing together. There’s an awful lot of them, and they’re got a huge reputation in their homeland for their live shows – unsurprising given the exuberance captured on this album. The first single release, Thing, with France’s Saian Supa Crew as guests – as if there weren’t enough members of Seeed – is one of the outstanding tracks, but really it’s hard to pick the best when you’ve got so much on offer in so many genres.
With three very distinct Mcs (Enuff, Eased and Ear) and 11 people’s musical influences jostling for space, Next is packed with variety, from the Lover’s Rock daydream Rise and Shine, with Cee-Lo Green on lead vocals, to the straight reggae of Waterpumpee delivered in thick patois, or the eerie electronic-based Slow Life. While tipping their hat to their roots, Next shows Seeed increasingly drawing on contemporary sounds to refresh their music.
Underpinning all the tracks is a strong reliance on simple, intuitive rhythms and tribal drumming, rather than the jerky sparseness of most current arrangements. Accapella passages illuminate Stand Up, but the song itself is a rich mix of drumming, an Arabic-influenced melody, and multi-track toasting. Arabic influences are also present on Music Monks and most particularly on the wickedly twisted Pressure.
Among the energetic tracks that are guaranteed to get you tapping your foot at the very least are some downplayed, simpler numbers like She Got Me Twisted, Respectness, a fresh twist on Dub Reggae with clattering drums and rich vocals and the wonderfully old-fashioned, slow Ska number Goosebumps, with its gorgeous brass chorus. It�s almost like they’re teasing us with their range, offering sweet love songs, sharp social observations, teasingly sexy numbers, ironic boasting and lots and lots of fantastic toasting. My album of the year, so far.