The simply titled 4 is well, the uhh… fourth record from funk soul brothers (and sister) The Bamboos.
Starting off strong with ‘On The Sly’, the ensemble uses every one of their apt eight members to create an instrumentally rich but stylistically tight and downright cool sound. Featuring vocals from the divine Kylie Auldist, a smooth walking bass line, accentuated horn stabs and an insistent riff underpinned by a playful Caribbean-esque percussion groove, it tells a chic tale of lies and deception, whilst simultaneously sipping a piña colada and dancing the samba.
‘Turn it Up’ does exactly that, amping the energy up a notch with the unmistakable cries of one Mr Lyrics Born. Whilst the vibe is definitely there and it’s a killer tune, the man’s token melodies, ‘sexy baby, put out for me’ subject matter and unrelenting primal grunts make me think that despite the brilliant instrumentals accompanying him, I’m still listening to the same old Lyrics Born record on repeat. Come on man, change it up a bit.
King Mere also joins the party in ‘You Ain’t No Good’, carrying on the ‘lover treat me right’ sentiment and party momentum established in the first few minutes of the record, but this time with a touch of gospel. I dig a fat tom-tom beat and the Bamboos use it to their advantage here, along with stylish organ and strings to build up tension and carry it out till the end of the tune.
The rest of the album follows suit, with a clandestine tact for making your feet itch and your heart shout out; floorless beats, syncopation, edgy grooves and mega attitude!
The omittance of vocals on some tracks serves as a reminder of the true stars of this album; THE BAND. The combination of vocalists keeps it interesting, whilst the sound as a whole retains that signature ‘Bamboo Groove’. Extensive instrumental skill and diversity is evident – even the sitar makes a cameo appearance.
Bringing real life instrumentals and soul back into dance music, 4 is a record to get the party started. It’s good to know that there are Australians out there bringing funk and soul back to the masses, with a modern flair. One again, Melbourne’s The Bamboos have outdone themselves with another full length album fit for a soul king… or fine-ass funk queen.
Warning: this record will make you wanna shake your booty, clap on the off-beat, kill your scheming lover and talk like ya ain’t nobody’s mama… dope!