Not being well versed in the Malian language of Bambara, nor even French, for all I know, Songhoy Blues could be singing derogatory prose about the size of this writer’s manhood, and there’s me blasting it unwittingly out of the car stereo, singing along with my own made up nonsense words, while they’re having a cheap laugh at my expense. Given that I haven’t actually heard my name mentioned at this point, I’m going to surreptitiously deduce that they’re not. Whatever they ARE banging on about they, it doesn’t really matter, for Résistance is a rather fine record from start to finish, and a lot of fun to boot.
In fact, it’s probably a good thing that I have no idea what they’re singing about, because, on the one occasion they DO resort to the English language, the Iggy Pop featuring track ‘Sahara‘, it seems, upon first listen, to be lamenting the fact that there’s “no Kentucky Fried Chicken” and “there ain’t no pizza“. Guys, I’m vegan. You’re not doing yourself any favours here! And basing your lyrical premise around a theme previously visited by the brackish Fast Food Rockers is somewhat dubious, no? Thankfully the wonderfully sleazy melody is more akin to that of Alabama 3 than the previously mentioned Folkestone based cheese-meisters. Before I get a barrage of abusive emails though, I should point out that my comments are very much tongue in cheek. I was aware, after all, following a few further plays, that they are actually celebrating a “genuine culture“, in a purer place, rather than championing any of the plastic ones that are foisted down our throats on a daily basis.
The rest of Résistance is something of an explosion of musical styles, showcasing perfectly just how adept this band is at capturing effectively the true spirit of each genre. To that end, it sometimes feels like Bootsy Collins has popped into your kitchen for a doughnut and accidentally taken an acid tab instead, after which he’s been kidnapped and thrown into a taxi by the remaining members of Third World as part of an initiation ritual into their band (note to self: Don’t give this an 8. You’ve given too many 8 ratings lately. Definitely don’t give it an 8).
Anyway, the overall feel of Résistance is one of joyful jubilation – a celebration of the rich diversity of cultures they have clearly immersed themselves in and, as a result, have delivered an ambitious, sprawling record whose roots rock hard on the likes of ‘Dabari‘ and the tremendous, somehow Chic-like ‘Yersi Yadda‘, but there’s plenty more on offer here – sparkling jazz-reggae in the form of their irresistible single ‘Bamako‘. You just KNOW that KC and The Sunshine Band would have been all over this one in their heyday…
Make no mistake, this is music to put a smile on your face. Songhoy Blues are here to bring the sunshine, and then some.
Résistance is out now on Transgressive Records.
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