Review by Liam Taylor.
I’m only 10 seconds in to There’s A Rumpus Going On, new album from chap-hop superstar Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, and I’m reminded what a pitiless worm Michael Gove is. How many albums released this year can claim to do the same? Spineless politicians aside, there is most assuredly a rumpus going on.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of chap-hop I’m going to let you take a moment to get up to speed, then I’ll meet you back here shortly, yes?
So Many Reggie Perrins In The Arse End Of Space has the kind of chorus you find yourself humming without fully understanding. It also includes the kind of jaunty bass-line and “rom-bom, bobbity-bom” hook you’d anticipate from a Chap-Hop L.P. with the seamless addition of an almost psychedelic bridge.
I get the impression that track 4, Hitler Gifs, was composed with the express purpose of having a a crowd chant “I love Hitler… … … gifs.” You will find yourself chanting it as well after a sherry or five, so best be sure the curtains are drawn before striking that play button.
Broadly these lyrics are about relaxation, and the inevitability that some will spend the small hours stuck in that part of the internet with all the memes.
Ollie And Stan opens with a Tom & Jerry-esque bombardment of sampled effects, beats and piano. Ostensibly, this is a track about Laurel & Hardie, (Ollie and Stan being their forenames), and even includes some sampling of their arguments, which makes the sound designer in me turgid with joy. This is a fast-paced stomper with a squishy bassline – can you imagine acid-dancehall-chap-hop? Well you don’t have to anymore, because this is it.
We Need To Talk About Kanye is a tune which needs to be played from the highest rooftops, from the loudest of boomboxes. Aside from being a daringly accurate re-creation of a well-known Queen harmony, it also makes a necessary point about those creating “art” in the 21st century. Is it art, or did they simply misspell “ego”?
National Trust is about as punk as a chap can get, whilst maintaining dignity. It also demonstrated that Mr. B isn’t afraid of getting political, and displaying his vocal flow whilst doing so. Is that a distortion pedal on the banjolele? Well, why not.
Track 9, Still Can’t Play The Trombone, is a reminder that we shouldn’t let lack of skill be a barrier to personal enjoyment.
It’s also at this point that I realised this album hasn’t relied so exclusively on the banjolele. We have the occasional visitations from upright piano and double bass as we’ve come to expect, but they’re now complemented with trombone, and a greater variety of synths, basses, beats and effects.
I don’t mind confessing that Last Of The Unknown International Flâneurs forced me to Google a phrase or two. Here we have an endearingly sloppy bassline, which reflects the wandering, sauntering nature of the tune.
The Happy Song is scantily-clad compared to others on this track, comprising of double bass, banjolele and a simple beat behind Mr. B‘s vocal, later joined by piano. This allows for a bit of a light-hearted breather between other tracks which are a tad dense at times. It’s much the same for this song’s lyrics which suggest we should reflect on what we have rather than what we think we need and that maybe life isn’t as terrible as it seems to be at the moment.
It’s possible that I’m putting my own feelings onto this song’s meaning, but good music is supposed to make you think, dammit!
Ennui seems to be a reoccurring theme withing this album, but takes centre stage with Boredom. The track isn’t boring however, spurred on by Mr. B‘s fast-paced vocals and compelling backing track.
The Secret Ingredient, as it turns out is “giving up” – at least, that’s what this self-proclaimed “defeatist anthem” declares. Although it’s a perfectly satisfactory and entertaining tune, the simple rhythms and sparse sections seem to reflect the subject matter. This is a pleasant sway-along breather many seem to employ towards the end of albums.
The album closes with Youth, Truth, Gin, Vermouth and yes, I’m sure there are parts of the planet in which that title won’t rhyme. Dark at times, this has a bit more movement to it than the previous track. You might still find yourself swaying, but you might also find yourself really fancying a Martini.
I suppose you want some kind of summary now, don’t you? Well, fine.
For a while, I’d not enthused about Mr. B as much as I had with the release of 2011’s O.G. Original Gentleman. In my mind, the musical quality of 2012’s The Tweed Album and 2013’s Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop was greatly improved, but at the expense of humour. There’s A Rumpus Going On, you’ll be glad to hear, is a great comedy album which doesn’t, as they often do, sacrifice musicality. My advice is that if you’ve ever enjoyed Mr. B, for any reason, you should give this album a ruddy good try.
Links and that:
- Grab yourself a copy of There’s A Rumpus Going On from Amazon.co.uk
- Mr. B on Facebook
- Mr. B’s Website