The Nextmen Join the Dots Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

It's a strong end to a exciting, original and diverse collection of tunes.

Lou Thomas 2009

The Nextmen's 2007 album, This Was Supposed To Be The Future, heralded a more organic, song-based direction for production duo Dominic Betmead and Brad Ellis (aka Dom Search and Brad Baloo). Here, the follow-up and fourth album delivers a mix of live instrumentation and digital trickery but, crucially, as many killer tunes as always.

The returning Ms. Dynamite takes things back to her pirate radio roots by MCing and singing on lead single The Lion's Den, a muscular number with a jumpy bassline of the kind breaks/garage innovator DJ Zinc used to frequently churn out. Roll Deep pal Kivanc contributes a heartfelt lyric about the horrors of domestic violence to the contemplative reggae skank of Love Someone. It's unusual to hear the line, ''He's only happy when he's bullying women,'' sung over a bedrock sound usually associated with happiness and sunshine, but the ostensibly wrong combination works well.

The album is particularly well-named. Dark to light, tough to tuneful and funk to reggae to breakbeat to baile funk are all interconnected with a host of impressive MCs, singers and moods.

For every moment such as Betty Stelles' oddly coy and childlike singing on pop dancehall number, Whisper Up, there's a song like Stay At Home: halfway between a minimal, paranoid, tech-garage subway nightmare and baile funk favela sexmusic; it'd get a gaggle of librarian's pole-dancing in a sweaty basement. Or how about the UK garage of Red Setter followed by So Many Girls' hilarious Chuck Berry-simple lyrics?: ''Suzie call me in the afternoon, she want me lovin' and she need it soon.''

And then, at the end of the record comes at most unexpected and plaintive moment. Folk newcomer Linsday Waters turns in a sweet-yet-earthy vocal over a Fix Up Look Sharp beat and echoing pianos. The resulting tune is like Groove Armada's My Friend retooled by Natasha Khan and Kate Bush, and is utterly captivating.

It's a strong end to a exciting, original and diverse collection of tunes which poses one big question - where can The Nextmen possibly go next?

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