Spook & the Guay

Ocho Rios

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Spook & the Guay's second disc finds the group expanding from their Jamaican rhythm foundation to blend in new sounds, ranging from the accordion-flavored "Dancefloor" to Latin music influences. The latter is particularly marked in the horn lines and piano of "Sugar" and "Maruchi," while "Un Tren" is built on a Jamaican rhythm but mixes in the Latin piano and horns before winding up with a thunderous percussion barrage. The Jamaican styles come on strong later: "Cyaan Stop" is straight reggae, "Cyaan Stop the Professor" a wholly different Anglo-reggae dub remix by Mad Professor, and "DJ Legend" salutes Spook & the Guay's Jamaican DJ heroes. The themes have also expanded from local to global complaints: the state of the new-millennium world ("On Comprend Pas"), anti-death penalty from lapidation to murderers' row ("12 Balles dans le Peau"), and an ecological wake-up call against industrial pollution ("Hoy Y Ahora"). "L'Homme," an anti-system protest calling for respect and dignity, rails against money power in the modern world, and "Modern Country" tackles the same topic over a Jamaican rhythm base. The language mix remains the same, but it seems like most of the hard social critiques are reserved for French, the party-time invocations for English, and the songs in Spanish are split down the middle. Crucially, the lyrics are far less ideological rants than questioning looks at the world Spook & the Guay see around them that fit smoothly into the flow of the songs. If Mi Tierra rocked and skanked a bit harder, the expanded musical and lyrical range of Ocho Rios makes it the pick of the two -- but just barely.

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