Babyhead – Babyboom Town
Billed as one of Britain's "fastest growing independent acts," Babyhead are a Hip Hop stroke Ska nine-piece hailing from Bristol, who, since the their conception in 1995, have built up an impressive live profile culminating in a performance at 2004's Glastonbury Festival. More renowned as a live band than a recording one, it stands to reason that some of Babyhead's appeal would be lost in translation with the release of their latest studio album, 'Babyboom Town.' Fortunately, this was not the case.
The album begins with a deceptively relaxing lounge/jazz interlude accompanied by a spoken word introduction; this catches the listener's attention and calms them, lulling them into a false sense of safety before a sudden drumbeat thrusts them headfirst into an energetic, funky ska number. Sonically, I think the most apt comparative of the band is 'Sublime meets Run DMC,' but then trying to quantify a band like Babyhead is difficult. Babyhead share their name with a 1991 song by ska luminaries Fishbone; their walking basslines and upstruck guitars are definite nods to this genre, just as their free-flowing group vocals showcase their affinity for hip hop.
But Babyhead are not merely a Ska / Hip Hop act. 'Recording Device,' the third track from the album features a backing instrumental firmly rooted in Jamaican Dub, 'Radio Silence' an acoustic number dealing with the decline in our society and 'Fastfoodtheatre' a slice of funk/jazz fusion discussing consumerism all show the range of musical diversity present in the band. It is clear that all nine members have an influence over the musical direction of the band, and whilst the idiom 'too many cooks spoil the broth' is true, the solid foundation made from Ska and Hip Hop serve to unify Babyhead's sound and send it, cohesively, in an original direction.
Lyrically, Babyhead are as diverse as their sound. With style, wit, and a profound sense of rhythm, they delve into a plethora of topics, ranging from the experience of being in a band ('The Programme') to the fickle concept of celebrity ('Rock Bottom'.) Babyhead don't shy away from the bigger issues too, dealing with the war on terror ('Phantom Power') and the aforementioned subjects of social decline and the perils of consumerism.
With artists such as Lilly Allen and the Ordinary Boys laying the groundwork for a potential ska revival, Babyhead have the originality and potential to go a long way if they get the exposure they deserve. Do them a favour, and buy this album!