Canadian group Bedouin Soundclash have been melding reggae and alternative rock for most of the last decade, beginning with their 2001 debut Root Fire. On Light the Horizon, their 4th album and possibly their best, BS incorporate afro-guitar, spaghetti western orchestration, and all-around better songwriting to improve upon their reggae/rock sound.
On earlier albums, BS were limited in their reach by lead singer/guitarist Jay Malinowski’s limited vocal range, and seemed to be experimenting with different sounds like dub in order to separate themselves from the rest of Sublime‘s children and grandchildren. While they still indulge in a couple generic, accessible alt rock singles (“Mountain Top” is a likely first single, though not their best by far), BS have expanded their sound to show their growth as a band.
The first instance of this divergence from their original sound can be heard on “May You Be My Road”, where an eerie whistling and plucked acoustic guitar create a melancholy western theme.”Brutal Hearts” adds an R&B lilt, as Jay duets with Coeure de Pirate over marching drums and snapping choruses, and the strongest track “Elongo”, is an elegiac afropop hymn with violins and a swelling chorus that recalls some of Peter Gabriel’s best work.
“The Quick and the Dead” is another reggae/spaghetti western hybrid that could be playing during a stand-off in Jamaica. After this, the last three tracks, “Rolling Stone”, “A Chance of Rain”, and “Follow the Sun” don’t quite live up to the earlier songs on the album, relying on typical ska riffs and echoing vocals that BS tended to overuse on earlier albums, but the overall direction the band is heading in gives me hope they have a great album in their future.