Bedouin Soundclash

Light the Horizon

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

You can count original and consistently interesting American reggae bands on one hand, and Bedouin Soundclash have long been one of them. But one of the things that set the trio apart from the pack was that it has always been pretty clear that reggae is a means, not an end, for leader and songwriter Jay Malinowski, who has always used reggae and rocksteady patterns as a way of getting a unique pop music vision across; for that reason, it was inevitable that as his skills matured he was going to move away from the strictures of reggae as a musical style. That maturity is fully in evidence on Light the Horizon, and the songs have indeed spread out into new stylistic territory: "Brutal Hearts" draws on 1950s-style lounge pop (and explicitly evokes "Fever"), while "Elongo" is blissfully atmospheric alt-pop with strings and "Mountain Top" is straightforward jangle rock whose only reggae referent is in the quietly frenetic rim-shot drum patterns during the verse. Another welcome indicator of maturity is Malinowski's substantial abandonment of the weird and annoying glottal stops that used to crop up whenever he changed notes in the middle of a vowel. They're still there once in a while, but are fewer and less noticeable. Even if they were still prominent, however, it wouldn't be enough to seriously diminish the pleasures of this very fine album.

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