Seven albums in, and if Groove Armada show no sign of handing in their chill-out crowns, Soundboy Rock suggests London's popular downbeat alchemists are more eager than ever to branch out. As the title suggests, this is an album that plays down Groove Armada's cocktail-supping Balearic side in favour of a more robust sound inspired by hip-hop, house and dub reggae. Immediate highlights are "Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)", which could almost be a long-lost Madonna single of the '80s, but for the fact it features ex-Sugarbabe Mutya Buena on vocals; and the title track, a simmering reggae skank that sees Groove Armada joined by their MC, MAD, and Hard-Fi's Richard Archer on melodica. It's a surprisingly guest heavy record also on board is Alan Donohue of The Rakes, soul queen Angie Stone, Tony Allen of The Good, The Bad, And The Queen, and Simon Lord of Simian Mobile Disco. Being old hands now, however, Groove Armada are wise not to let this celebrity cavalcade distract them from the matter at hand that is, making bouncy, unpretentious dance music that balances a crate-digger's taste with maximum mainstream appeal. --Louis Pattison
Eclectic to the extreme is the only way to describe Groove Armada's latest offering. The fifth studio album from the Cambridge duo is an unpredictable mix. Breakbeats and electro-pop sit side by side, trip hop follows chillout and electro-reggae precedes grime in an album where every track nods to a different musical genre.
But despite the risk of falling between musical stools, Soundboy Rock offers diversity and intrigue while maintaining continuity. Employing some of the biggest names in music, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay have stood by their musical heritage and managed to sound vibrant and of-the-moment. That said, some listeners may find the eclecticism a little excessive.
Simon Lord (Simian Mobile Disco) appears on the danceable 'The Things That We Could Share', while Candi Stanton lends her services to 'Love Sweet Sound' and trip hop pastiche, 'Paris'. Hot off the garage scene, MC Stush shares her razor sharp vocals on single 'Get Down' and again on 'Drop That Thing'.
But Tom and Andy remain faithful to chillout; What?s Your Version? recounts images of days-gone-by beach strolls while Save My Soul incorporates trademark sun drenched synths and splitting breakbeat to great effect.
Title track "Soundboy Rock" utilises the distinctive Hard-Fi harmonica courtesy of Richard Archer and "See What You Get", the most breaksy, funky offering, features The Rakes' frontman, Alan Donohoe - just to keep the indie kids happy.
The only slight anomaly is 'Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)' featuring ex-Sugababe, Mutya Buena. Pop fans will be dancing off the walls, but the song treads a fine line between catchy-credibility and pop banality.
All bases covered, there is enough to keep most music fans happy although some may complain Tom and Andy have tried a little too hard to please everyone. A band that has always been able to produce hit singles and retain their cool detachment, Groove Armada have created an album that will certainly get people talking. --Gemma Padley
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GROOVE ARMADA Soundboy Rock (2007 UK 15-track CD album from one of the most consistently successful dance acts of recent years including the single Get Down the album features collaborations with Candi Staton Angie Stone Simian Mobile Discoand Mutya Buena [Sugababes] on the gorgeous Song 4 Mutya [Out Of Control])