Rocky, Diesel and AshleyBeedle are veterans in giving people their ownmakeshift feelgood, either as DJs or producers, so itcomes as no surprise to report they’ve done thebusiness again here.In doing so they’ve added a fewextra dimensions to the X-Press 2 make-up, enlisting anew set of guest vocalists to help them.
They’ve come an awful long way since theunderground tracks of the mid 1990s. Muzikizum, thetrio’s debut, brought these together and showed anaptitude for instrumental club cuts such as the mightytitle track. At the same time it served notice of anew talent for songwriting, the obvious example beingthe David Byrne collaboration Lazy.
Their second album finds them pushing thesongwriting much further, no doubt buoyed by theconfidence given by Lazy’s success. This does mean thesharp edges previously found in the club tracks haveblunted a little, but it also brings a greater senseof coherence to their form.
And as far as feel good goes, the KurtWagner-assisted Give It is up there with the bestof them, working well in its album format as it buildsto a euphoric chorus. Not many fusions of gospel andhouse music have proved this effective. The heady aircontinues with Tim DeLaughter, guest in aslightly bizarre version of Witchi Tai To, pulled offby the skin of its teeth.
It’s good to see the band isn’t just about scalingthe highs, as their dark side has always appealed.Here it’s best glimpsed in Kill 100, the cold,slightly sinister house production fronted by analmost emotionless Rob Harvey. Flipside, theelectro-fuelled Don’t Make Me Wait finds BernardFowler going for the big-room vocal and nearlysucceeding.
Almost half the tracks on the album collaboratewith ravesters Kissing The Pink, and feature ahealthy nod to the early 90s. Enjoy The Ride, with itssquiggly synths, is superceded by the po-faced LightMy Soul, a deadpan vocal and slower beat workingwell.
Only one track comes close to routine, the emptybluster of Fellow Cutie. But this record largelysucceeds in elevating X-Press 2 to a higher level,fusing their songwriting and club sensibilities ratherimpressively.