Released right when they were in town last week, The People's Record is Club 8's newest outing. It comes three years after their last record and boy, how big a difference those three years make. From their library of seven records, The People's Record is perhaps their most ambitious to date. [firstpara]
It's not that the duo is completely askew from its old self—Club 8 has always been adventurous with genres—it's that musically, they've never been as full as they are here. That is, they've wrestled with 11 musicians and worked with a producer from the outside. This is not mentioning their travel to Brazil, a trip that clearly planted the very seed of this African-slash-world music experiment.
The result is disorienting to say the least. Where sparse instrumentation and simple arrangement were expected—stuff long offered by Club 8—are surprising percussions and lively beats. They played a few song off The People's Record during the May 14-gig and not surprisingly, the audience needed some warming up to them.
"Western Hospitality" is such a strong first track that though this is where disorientation begins, it successfully brings the listeners up to par. It is unfamiliar and unexpected, but laden with hooks—foremost of which is Karolina's polite vocals—it sets the festive mood quite nicely.
"Isn't it Great?" takes Club 8's fiesta up a notch. We like how Karolina's voice floats above the festivities, reeling you in to listen, never mind the web of jangles and beats. During the concert, it is actually while playing this song, that the crowd really, absolutely, got the hang of the party.
But then all too suddenly, the duo brings the song to a half time, slowing it down, with the listeners losing their bearings. They employ the same trick to the less stellar "Shape Up!" which is a pity because the song isn't given the chance to warm itself up and be loved.
This is also when things start to get a wee bit old, a tad too dull. "Dancing With the Mentally Ill" comes next and though it could easily be considered one of the record's highlights, it starts off rather too slowly. Instead of putting you into trance, the repetitive guitars and the choral begin to gnaw.
It doesn't help that "My Pessimistic Heart" follows the same slow structure. Perhaps this is only to help set up the next track, "Back to A." We like the tension between Karolina's relaxed vocaled and the sence of urgency from the instruments.
WORDS BY: LOU E. ALBANO