Signs of a Struggle was an artistic and financial success, so, naturally, the London boys from Mattafix had to face the "second album problem", having to live up to expectations they set themselves. The results of their second effort turned out to be mixed: Rhythm & Hymns isn't enough of a letdown to do the band in, but it's certainly nowhere as necessary as their first LP. One major drawback is that now the roots are showing. Their borrowings from reggae stylistics are much more explicit than before, and neither the absence of Jah and marijuana, nor the sweet high voice of Marlon Roudette are enough to camouflage it. Another drawback is that the quality of songwriting has taken a dip. Now there's filler to be found, and a lot of tracks in the latter half of record zip by pretty unobtrusively. "Memories of Soweto" is the kind of song that will stick in your memory once and forever, but not for its emotional quality -- just blame it on the stupidly effective lyrical hook of Sovietto ghetto. On the plus side, the band managed to retain the most important element of their sound -- this mellow-but-not-Muzak vibe of their urban reggae that's this close to depressing but turns out to be poppy and relaxing. So if you really need a new Mattafix fix, you can still get it, and you probably won't even care about this horrible pun. And some of the tracks are just plain strong -- at least the bouncy opening song and the nobly opportunistic single "Living Darfur," -- although they should have thought better than placing them in the first and second slots of the album, given the overall moderate quality of the material.
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko