Against All Odds

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British hip-hop trio N-Dubz spent eight years trying to break out from the underground North London pirate radio scene before achieving multi-platinum success with their debut album, Uncle B. Since then, they've never looked back, embarking on a sold-out arena tour, appearing in critically acclaimed TV series Dubplate Drama, and scoring a number one single with fellow grime-pop artist Tinchy Stryder. Second LP Against All Odds only highlights the remarkable change in attitude toward the notorious mischief makers, with guest spots from some of the U.K. urban scene's most prominent artists, like Wiley ( "Na Na" ), Chipmunk ("Suck Yourself"), Mr. Hudson ("Playing with Fire"), and a song penned by none other than unlikely admirer Take That's Gary Barlow ("No-One Knows"). But fans of their previous street-friendly output shouldn't be too concerned that the band's newfound celebrity friendships have inspired a genre-shifting departure, as much of Against All Odds follows the same stuttering beats, melodic poppy choruses, and bizarre group lexicon formula of its predecessor. Lead single "I Need You" is an all-too-contemporary tale of searching for a lost love on Facebook set against a backdrop of clubby synths, urgent rhythms, and quirky lyrics about "bang bang shoes"; "Duku Man" is a frenetically paced skit which showcases Dappy, Fazer, and guest MC Fearless' breakneck-speed lyrical delivery; "Say It Over" is a mournful, string-led account of a dying relationship, and "Shoulda Put Something On," tackles teenage pregnancy, "proving" they are capable of addressing more sensitive issues alongside the rather clich├ęd male bravado. Elsewhere, "Number One" is a re-recorded version of their chart-topper, which places more emphasis on N-Dubz's vocals than the Stryder-heavy original; "Let Me Be" is a bouncy slice of dancehall featuring Goin' Through's Nikos "Nivo" Vourliotis and a slight nod to their Greek heritage, while "Comfortable" is an accomplished solo acoustic ballad which allows Tulisa's impressive vocal abilities, often smothered by her bandmates' dominating ad-libs, to come to the forefront. The album's accompanying booklet, which features a glossary of their slang terms, and a D.I.Y. style guide, should indicate that Against All Odds is almost exclusively a youthful affair. But even though it's likely to alienate anyone who was born before the Phil Collins song of the same name, it's still a vibrant and hook-laden follow-up which is destined to be this year's back-of-the-school-bus soundtrack.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 0:57 Spotify
2 3:21 Spotify
3 3:47 Spotify
4 3:44 Spotify
5 3:31 Spotify
6 3:36 Spotify
7 2:24 Spotify
8 3:20 Spotify
9 4:25 Spotify
10 3:23 Spotify
11 3:33
12 4:09 Spotify
13 3:39 Spotify
14 0:49 Spotify
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