Marlon Roudette Matter Fixed Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A significant success on the continent, this London-born singer is now chasing UK hits.

Mike Diver 2012

A success on the continent, where New Age has topped charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, London-born Marlon Roudette hasn’t quite made his mark in the UK. This debut solo collection, which follows two albums as half of urban pop duo Mattafix, might not change that situation. But it’s certainly got flashes of significant potential, and its first few tracks state a case for Roudette being a name worth keeping tabs on.

If Matter Fixed’s title is a cringe-worthy pun, its opener puts aside fears of novelty contents. Story Line rides in on wavering synths, before deep percussion punches in. When Roudette enters, it’s with a whisper: an audacious introduction which flies in the face of common pop boisterousness. It’s a stirring first impression, and once strange buzzes come to the fore of the mix, and light dub touches pepper its background, the stage is set for a special long player. Unfortunately, what follows is too patchy for unreserved recommendation.

New Age is every second a hit, breezy and instant of appeal. A gentle piano motif guides it, percussion zesty without overpowering a lightweight composition. Roudette’s got a fine way with a rhyming couplet, but he lacks a standout voice amongst so many competing for mainstream attentions. It’s above serviceable, but lacks a singular resonance to identify its owner within moments. A rather more recognisable voice belongs to BRIT winner Finley Quaye, who guests on the laidback True to Yourself. Quaye’s hardly an in-demand collaborator these days, but his warm tones complement Roudette’s vocals nicely.

Riding Home and Brotherhood of the Broken are tangents that don’t quite strike the right chords. The former is something of a Streets-light effort, admirable of intention but Roudette’s rap delivery is more a bad Example than a Plan B worth exploring further. Brotherhood…, meanwhile, is reggae tinged – perhaps it’s a nod to Roudette’s mother, who hails from the Caribbean, but the song is far too relaxed for its own good and struggles to impose itself between better tracks.  

There’s a pleasantly stripped-back vibe to The Loss, which picks the album up after a mid-section sag, but closer (save the bonus track, Shakedown) City Like This wallows in unappetising syrupiness.

Fans of Olly Murs’ easy-going gaiety will enjoy Matter Fixed, but domestic star status may elude Roudette if he doesn’t expand upon this collection’s better ideas for album two.

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