Streetlight Manifesto will be shocking familiar to you, with regard to their sound. This will only occur though, if you own the Catch 22 album ‘Keasbey Nights’; An album which I sincerely hope you do because it is one of the most important and exciting Ska revival albums of the 90’s. The familiarity stems from the fact that this band was formed from the members of two similar groups from the same region, ‘One Cool Guy’ and ‘Catch-22’.
So now you might have an idea of the sound, but I will go into it anyway. Streetlight Manifesto are a bass and brass led group with cheeky flurries of clean guitar topped off with speedy, tuneful & sometimes almost rapped vocals that your will adore. Despite what you may think from that description, this is very relaxed and chilled out music with 4-7 minute songs that offer huge expansive journeys and tales of death, reflection and life. Despite its inherently bouncy feel this album is chock full of violent and pessimistic references. This makes for an even balance and exciting subject matter for this genre and could be compared to the lyrical content of ‘The Transplants’.
A perfect example of this would be; ‘They’ll try to tell you that it’s ok, but it’s not and your shot and your bleeding pretty bad, and you cant stop thinking about the things you never had, like a wife and a kid and the things you never did’ from the most accomplished and wonderfully fulfilling song on this album; ‘Point / Counterpoint’. Too long have punk and Ska songs been sentenced to never dip their little toes beyond that 3 minute mark. ‘Catch 22’ were the men that jumped headlong over it and now Streetlight Manifesto take the plunge and don the spy movie scuba gear as they swim under the music industries radar and emerge way past it.
There is a real dramatic feel to this music; because the timing constantly speeds up and slows down it allows the listener to gauge their reaction and interpretation of that moment of the song. Add to that; addictive and incredible bass lines plus some outstandingly mood creating brass moments that cater for spy movie drama to the true excitement of the chase. ‘Here’s To Life’ finds a real Jewish/Latin flavour once again added to the proceedings and turns such a blank canvas into a magical sense enhancing scratch n’ sniff tale of wonder, excitement and drama, this acts as though it’s not only a movie soundtrack but the movie it’s self!
This is such a diverse arrangement of songs from a dream team formation of some of Ska’s most talented mid-90’s artists. There is a real complexity to this record that is welcome as it merges styles, instruments and speeds to create mood after mood and acts as a call to arms for each and every emotion a human possesses. This is a must for ‘Catch 22’ fans but also anyone who wants a record that really does offer a listening ‘experience’.
Standout Tracks: ‘Point / Counterpoint’, ‘Heres To Life’ & ‘The Big Sleep’