McAlmont & Butler

Bring It Back

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Time is evidently a great healer. Perhaps more cynically, it was a lack of solo success which saw guitarist Bernard Butler and vocalist David McAlmont bury their respective hatchets after having spectacularly fallen out following the release of their debut album The Sound of McAlmont & Butler in 1996. Surprisingly, the break appears to have done them more good than harm, with the appropriately titled Bring It Back encumbered with few, if any, of the bitterness which drove them apart seven years ago, getting right back on the horse with an album which operates in the best soul traditions. Although occasionally stumbling into the kind of soul-lite favored by the likes of the Lighthouse Family, the pair are at their best when turning up their noses to the bland arrangements which clog many of their contemporaries and diving deep into high maintenance strings and grinding wah-wah guitar -- McAlmont's voice is one of the few which can do justice to such over-the-top string arrangements, while Butler wields his hooks like a weapon. Although often ridiculous, with something of the do-or-die feel to the long-player as a whole, the album is at its best when tipping its hat to the heady sounds of The Temptations and their ilk -- the opening "Theme" and subsequent "Falling" possibly the closest thing modern music has come to capturing the spirit of Motown's golden age.

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