Big D and the Kids Table’s sixth full-length album and it’d be pretty absurd to expect them to stick to one sound, which is certainly something they haven’t been shy to do, during their 14-years of being a band. Their 2007 effort, Strictly Rude, gartered a somewhat mixed reaction, as we were introduced to a more mellow, dub-heavy sound, and Fluent In Stroll sees the ska heavyweights experiment even more so.
Opening with the rather unorthodox Doped Up Dollies On A One Way Ticket To Blood, I fully expect the eyebrows to be raised and faces to be twisted of those old school fans, longing for the return of Big D’s faster, more punkier and heavier-hitting sound of How It Goes and Good Luck, but forget about it, you’re not going to get it. Once you’re past the ‘WTF?’ aspect, the track grows on you significantly after several plays – which can be said regarding most of the tracks on the album, especially to long-time fans.
While the vibe of Fluent In Stroll mostly resembles that of Strictly Rude, it most certainly brings an assortment of its own flavours. There is a more chilled-out atmosphere with laid-back riffs and a heavy dose of funky bass throughout; the brass is not-so much of a focal point and is fairly watered-down compared to previous releases, which stand out track Describing The Sky perfectly emulates. Vocalist, David McWane, best describes Fluent In Stroll’s style of music as ‘Stroll’, explaining that “It’s a mix of Hop-Scotch, Double-Dutch, Soul, Ska and Reggae.”
The jazzy horns create a soulful and Motown-esque feel to Known To Be Blue and I, I, I, which displays just one of the many new and exciting sounds that Big D brings to the (kids) table with this album. A Latin American influence is even exhibited during the chorus of Where Did All The Women Go? as they dabble in a smidgen of salsa.
Background female vocals are a new and refreshingly frequent feature throughout the album, which playfully contrast well with the lead vocals of McWane, as demonstrated in Stop, Look & Listen (Shake Life Up) and Not Fucking Around. McWane still speaks/sings in the same vein as Strictly Rude, with the usual Big D-themed lyrics circulating around girls and partying.
Sure, their sound has completely changed and there is not an ounce of punk on here, but no matter what sound Big D produce, it is undeniable that they are a consistently good band, admirably unafraid to push boundaries within their genre, and while this may not be their best (Strictly Rude holds that title), this creation has still resulted in one of the most sublime and feel-good summertime albums of 2009.
Fluent In Stroll is out on SideOneDummy Records on July 7th.
For more on Big D and the Kids Table visit: www.myspace.com/bigdandthekidstable