The second album from the Selecter since vocalists Pauline Black and Arthur "Gaps" Hendrickson revived the band in 2010, 2017's Daylight follows a similar template to 2015's Subculture, in which Black and Hendrickson reworked the band's approach away from the 2-Tone attack of their first incarnation to a more rootsy sound that's part Jamaican ska and part roots reggae. While it may not quite be the Selecter as fans of Too Much Pressure remember them, this edition of the band cuts an impressive groove, and they sound even stronger and more confident than before on Daylight. Neil Pyzer, who co-wrote the songs, leads the group on sax, guitar, and keyboards, and he and his accompanists deliver a taut, potent sound that connects solidly. This group skanks with potent authority throughout, especially the tireless rhythm section of bassist Luke Palmer and drummer Winston Marche. (Jools Holland also contributes piano on the title cut.) Daylight also reflects the state of the world in 2017, with a more defiant tone and a socio-political consciousness that informs songs like "Paved with Cold," "Frontline," "Pass the Power," and "Taking Back Control." Even the album's token song about love, "3 Reasons," is admirably tough and lacking in sentimentality as Black shouts down a man who has abandoned her. And while Hendrickson's vocals are weathered but effective, Black is as strong a singer as she was in the early '80s, and her passion and power add immeasurably to the album's impact. The Selecter may still be best remembered for their part in the U.K. ska explosion of the early '80s, but Daylight shows they don't have to rest on past glories; they're creating a new body of work that's smart, energetic, and powerful.
by Mark Deming