Album review: Herbaliser “There Were Seven”


text: Max Jones

Like any good walk down memory lane, The Herbaliser’s latest album, There Were Seven, has some twists and turns. Unlike most of those nostalgic walks, though, this album doesn’t leave you longing for the days of old. The Herbaliser, made up of the duo Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba, have been laying down beats since the mid-90s, and that experience and longevity pays dividends on this 15-track record. It pays homage to the old school with spirited tracks like ‘The Return of the Seven’, where they channel early-RJD2.

Later they bring in guest rapper George the Poet on ‘Sad State of Affairs’, and it resembles Handsome Boy Modeling School at their best. With all of these influences and throwbacks combined, The Herbaliser are far more powerful than Captain Planet, they are a relentless party machine that reminds all of us why we started listening to them in the first place.

Listening to all of the thrashing tones of dubstep crowding the airwaves these days, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time, “bedroom geniuses” actually used real samples and drum beats to make smooth and melodic mashups. The Herbaliser is one of those old-school artists, having pioneered the genre of Jazz-Rap with the release of Remedies in 1995. Back then, they occasionally tried too hard to squeeze as many sounds and beats-per-minute into each and every tune. These days, they’ve learned from their mistakes, mellowed out, and realized that sometimes less is more. The result is There Were Seven, where the anthemic party beats like “Extravaganzia” reside side-by-side with steady gangster grooves interlaced with quotes from The Wire on the track, “Setting Up.”

Is There Were Seven going to blow your mind? If you are already a fan, probably not; unlike other comeback albums from our adolescent heroes, though, it will not disappoint.

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