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Nizlopi Make It Happen Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Those who were turned off by the commercial success of The JCB Song may want to give...

Gemma Padley 2008

When Nizlopi crashed into the pop arena in 2004 they were swept up in the socio-commentary avalanche that has since engulfed the music scene. While Mike Skinner was already a veteran of the documentary style, (Don't Mug Yourself was released in 2002), Leamington Spa duo Luke Concannon and double bass sidekick John Parker's soulful approach was markedly different. Best known for the phenomenally successful JCB Song the duo combined easy listening soulfulness with acoustic flare. The story-telling approach may now be a little passé, but the Nizlopi follow-up has some insightful moments.

While adolescents could relate to The JCB Song because it addressed common insecurities, Make it Happen also broaches teenage anxieties and aspirations. Digital single Start Beginning kicks off in a positive vein with gospel backing vocals tossed in for added vibrancy. If You Care About It – one of the album's catchier tracks – treads a similar inspirational course; the easy-funky vibe encapsulates summer daydreams perfectly (Something to do with Bob Marley producer Phill Brown who lends a hand here perhaps?).

Most interesting is the up-tempo material: Feel Inside is a tumbling carnival of off-the-hook double bass, fragmented rap fragments and breathless skiffle while England Up Rise with its sing-along chorus is immediately memorable (if somewhat let-down by empty lyrics – ''we can change it for everyone…love is a revolution you don't need a gun'').

Conconnan’s distinctive vocal is complimented by inventive but not invasive string and guitar arrangements. For the most part his sentiments ring true, but sometimes the world-changing aspirations sound hollow and trite. Part Of Me is a terrible faux pas; attempting to broach the issue of coming to terms with one's sexuality, it name-checks political leaders in cringeworthy fashion.

Although there is no obvious JCB follow-up, Make it Happen features some interesting musical explorations. Understated closing track Lay Down has surprising depth. Those who were turned off by the commercial success of The JCB Song may want to give Nizlopi another go.

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