Blending elements of Ska, Dub and Rock, The Barefoot Bandit have a brilliantly unique and excitingly original approach to their music – referencing the likes of The Specials with their ska rhythms while encompassing elements of rock guitar and dub production.
Opening the witty, understated intro ‘Hello Welcome’ a simple field recording of a shop door welcome tone and an American voice saying “Hello Welcome”, it feels as though you are instantly entering The Barefoot Bandit’s world, ready for whatever kind of musical foray is about to ensue.
The album’s lead single, and stand out track opens the 12 tracks in a fittingly impressive manor. Effortlessly catchy brass over a tight dub and ska fuelled backdrop that ebbs and flows through warming musical textures and ear-worm vocal lines. Moments of electronica, blended with tight live instrumentation and ever bright brass, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable start to the album.
‘Feel Better’ opens with a soft wash of etherial guitar and synths before once again slipping into the stylistic ska-come-reggae rhythms found across the 12 tracks. The almost charitable chorus highlights the bands ability to write considered, yet obviously crowd pleasing music adorned with subtle dub delays and subtle harmonies.
Elsewhere on the album ‘Demons’ emphasises the bands ability to blend modern elements with elements of The Specials with a dark yet vibrant dub sound, whilE the band’s unique and brilliant take on the chill out hit ‘At The River’ is an unexpected break from the band’s ska sound. Capturing an etherial euphoria with a sparse, atmospheric musical soundscape under the smokey vocals of guest singer Charlene Soria, the cover showcases the band’s undoubtable ability to create affecting, considered soundscapes with subtle delays and wide reverbs soaking the instrumentation before breaking once again into the bands infectious offbeat rhythms.
Track 7, the instrumental ‘Karma Dub’ acts to further break up the album as we reach the mid point. A hazy instrumental that feels as thought you are stood in a field at a festival crowd, gently swaying with a warm beer in your hard and plumes of smoke from someones zoot floating over you.
Another stand out track, the affecting, emotive call to action ‘Brothers & Sisters’, a brilliantly catchy and expertly put together track, comes in before the album closes on an a fittingly psychedelic and musically rich number with the infectious ‘Full Moon Pressure’. Moving between witty lyricism, haunting tones and moments of vibrant almost carnival-esque instrumental sections, ‘Full Moon Pressure’ polishes things off on a high note.
A spotlessly produced, inventive collection of tracks, Hello Welcome demonstrates what a talented collection of musicians The Barefoot Bandit are. Stylistically the band know themselves are acutely aware of their sound and their identity, something which adds to the polished nature of the bands music.
After listening to Hello Welcome, it’s hard not to respect the bands ability to capture the bands ability to capture both emotional depth and infectious energy. After listening through the album, it’s safe to say I’m to see the band live – their sound is full of varying musical styles resulting in a rich, sonically intriguing yet always fluent and cohesive sound. A spotless album full of brilliant ideas, this is an excellent representation of the band and a must for any ska and dub lovers.