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5 Review

by Andy Kellman

This troop showed up anonymously and without notice in February 2019. First was "We Are the Sun," a sugared and easy-rocking declaration of pride and resolve from what sounded like a small instrumental combo and a multi-gender group of vocalists warming up at first light. They returned four weeks later with "Don't Waste My Time," suggesting they were buzzed on an eruptive mix of funk-loving post-punk bands such as Rip Rig + Panic and Maximum Joy, '70s Nigerian rock nuggets, and much indignation. Clues were in the songwriting and production metadata of these tracks, crediting Dean Josiah Cover, known as the Ivor Novello Award-winning Inflo, and Melisa Young, aka the BET Awards-nominated Kid Sister. The two songs -- between which Kid Sister returned after a long absence as a headliner with the stirring Cover collaboration "Long Way Back" -- barely indicated the stylistic breadth Sault show on 5. Assisted on occasion by Tom Campbell, Cover is the chief producer and co-writer, joined again by Young and with greater frequency by Cleopatra "Cleo Sol" Nikolic, another dynamic vocalist with Inflo-affiliated solo output. Odds are strong that at least some of the unnamed musicians have been involved with recordings in which the identified have taken part, quite possibly heard on LPs from Michael Kiwanuka, Jungle, Karen O and Danger Mouse, and Little Simz. The psychedelic (echo) chamber soul that has either ornamented or permeated those releases goes farther out here. Combined with the players' almost frenzied urgency, the effect is headier yet. Lively group vocals also common to Inflo productions are widespread, as much of a treat as the crack rhythm section's facility in recontextualizing gritty and smooth soul, Afro-beat, Krautrock, and post-disco boogie. Beyond the included preceding singles, the highlights are numerous, equal in quantity to the approaches. They flirt, frolic, and yearn in "Up All Night" and "Why Why Why Why Why," denigrate and taunt racist homicidal police in "Foot on Necks," and in "Masterpiece" craft a tear-jerking devotional ballad that's ghostlier than anything out of Adrian Younge's Linear Labs. Released on the independent label Forever Living Originals, presumably an Inflo undertaking, 5 comes off like the result of one supercharged marathon session unburdened by commercial pressure.

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