Self-described as "guaranteed sand in your shoes," Barbados quartet Cover Drive stay true to their word on their debut album, Bajan Style. Like the early career of their island's most famous musical export, Rihanna, its 12 tracks combine tropical pop melodies with dancehall and R&B beats to produce the kind of feel-good record which would sound ideal at a beach party in the West Indies, but less so on a wet weekend in their adopted London. Having assembled an impressive array of producers including Quiz & Larossi (Kelly Clarkson), Supa Dups (Bruno Mars), and J.R. Rotem (Jason Derulo), whose trademark sirens open the dramatic tango intro, massive pop hooks aren't in short supply. "Headphones," a breezy slice of ska-pop which recalls No Doubt at their most playful, is worthy of following the synth-led "Twilight" all the way to the U.K. number one spot; "Sparks" is a classy and surprisingly melancholic R&B duet between vocalist Amanda Reifer and drummer T-Ray, while lead single "Lick Ya Down" echoes the sassiness of Jessie J's "Do It Like a Dude," albeit with added steel drums. However, it's still a little puzzling as to how Cover Drive present themselves as a traditional four-piece band considering at no point does Bajan Style ever sound like it contains a real instrument, while its relentlessly sunny disposition starts to lose its shine toward the second samey half, particularly on the novelty reggae of "Wrongside" and the generic "Hurricane" and "I Know You Too Well." Considering Rihanna's debut didn't exactly set the world alight, it's perhaps unfair to write off their globe-conquering chances just yet. But like their compatriot, they might have to pursue something a little less frothy and lightweight next time round.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien