I’ve been giving Bedouin Soundclash blog love for years now, and they deserve it.  I thought they were history last year when drummer Pat Pengelly quit, but rest of the band persevered and reformed with what is easily their best record.  My only complaint about the band in the past was that their stuff could get kind of tiresome when listened to end-on-end, in album form.  I found that seven or eight BS songs were usually enough.  That’s still good–when you listen to as much music as I do, trust me, most bands can’t hack a good album side, let alone an 80%-good record.   But their work didn’t feel cohesive.

That’s all changed with Light the Horizon.  Still ska-light (think of it as if The Clash formed today, with Mick Jones as the lead writer), still full of traditional-sounding rhythms and lyrics, the music has more of an urgency than ever before.  It’s actually something I haven’t heard much of before:

Tender protest music.

That’s right, music that’s about uplifting the downtrodden both politically and romantically.  The kind of music Jimmy Cliff used to make, and Ritchie Havens, and Woody Guthrie.

A few examples: “The Quick and the Dead,” a deceptively simple reggae chant, begins: “Lone shy Mac kicked the bucket/So why worry about the holes in my pocket?/So I ran with the quickness/Rather than sit with the stillness.”  It’s about lost opportunities, obsession with bling, and the constant pursuit of avoiding reality.  Then there’s unexpected acoustic love songs like “No One Moves, No One Gets Hurt,” that are simply unlike anything you’ve heard from lead singer Jay Malinowski before–they’re more vulnerable, more moving.  And “Brutal Hearts,” which features Coeur De Pirate on vocals, is a thing to behold, truly.

Looks like the addition of Sekou Lumumba was a good thing.

I love this record.

Buy it and get song samples here.

Taste Brutal Hearts (stream only).

And cop some classic BS, to stream or download:

New Year’s Day (U2)/ Guns of Brixton (Clash)

Waiting for my Ruca (Sublime cover)

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