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The Brighton Beat | The Brighton Beat

album review by John Powell

The Brighton Beat | The Brighton Beat

For whatever reason, Afrobeat has resurfaced among northeast acts, becoming a quickly growing choice of genre, and the whole game seems to be: are we going progressive, or keeping things old school? The Brighton Beat is the latter. Hailing from Boston, this septet has released a self-titled LP of long jams that rarely- if ever- break from the classic guidelines for Afrobeat. In fact, the last song, “Indian Summer”, is 12 minutes long, and “The Paradox” is the shortest song, coming in at barely seven minutes.

Because each song is so long, the sound changes up too often to nail down any overall boos or bravos. The opener, “Pinball”, begins wonderfully, its percussion tight and its keyboards simmering nicely. The Brighton Beat, however, is influenced heavily by dudes like Herbie Hancock, peeling away any widespread contemporary fan base. The sax solo that flies off into experimental odyssey on “Pinball” is distracting more than entertaining, and will lost some people.

These extended and off kilter portions of songs aren’t for a lack of musicianship, but rather conscious decisions that you, as a listener, may or may not appreciate. “Giraffe” is the ideal example for this. While the initial groove (yeah, bass, yeah) is slick, the sax solo here is too much. The band often falls back on a sax squeaking into hard to reach high notes.

The Brighton Beat faces the challenge many Afrobeat purists will face, which is whether or not this sound sustains. At first go ‘round, Afrobeat actually had a short lifespan. It seemed more an experiment than sensible music genre. With its reemergence, bands have the power to evolve the basics. The Brighton Beat don’t lack in good grooves. They just need to decide if 10 minutes is too long for a song without vocals and no tempo changes.

For an instrumental band, it’s amazing that The Brighton Beat can keep up with the momentum they have. While longer songs is in true Afrobeat fashion, this particular record is for a niche audience- not one looking for a jam to bust out while cruising down the highway. Nope. This album is dedicated to the chill partiers that are making light conversation.

For that reason, The Brighton Beat have an interesting path, sticking with the sound that works for them but may get old, or seeing where other musical influences can come into play. Pick up this album with caution but also note that if you can buy in to their particular experimental improvisation sound, you will have a good time listening.

Bottom line: Long tracks and constant grooves keeps the sound old school and fun.


 

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