What do you get when you cross two-tone ska, reggae, a pinch of Latin, and elements of pop songwriting and production? No, this isn’t a setup to some stupid joke. In fact, unlike most modern ska, The Heist is an album that tries to avoid the stigma of ska being a silly genre. With this latest release, The Kubricks’ bring something surprisingly refreshing to the table.
In short, The Kubricks’ sound revolves primarily around a throwback to the British two-tone ska boom of the 1980s, but with a refined, modern touch up to the production and songwriting. The songs featured on this record are some of the best-executed combinations of these two genres. I’ve heard reggae influences in over-produced pop music before, but The Kubricks find a nice middle ground between both genres that appeal to fans of both sides. Throwing in drum machines and synths into their mix, while keeping the real instruments, and natural tones of the guitars, keys, and horns.
The album goes on a bit of a cold streak around its halfway point with that section sporting some of the more generic and forgettable tracks. That said, the track listing for the album is as perfect as can be. The Heist lists off a few solid tracks to grab the listener’s attention. It keeps its weaker songs in the back half, all while throwing in some upbeat, energetic jams now and then to keep things interesting and make those songs stand out. “Living In The Night” and “The Trouble In Your Life” are fun, upbeat tunes for those fonder of third wave ska. The singer’s thick English accent make these tracks very reminiscent of something The Toasters would put out. “Morning After” and “D is For Danger” are among the pop-focused tracks on this record, using safe, hooky vocal melodies, and synth/electronic elements that you’d find blaring at a club. All these songs and components come together to create a pretty diverse and fun twelve tracks.
The Kubricks have produced a gem of an album with The Heist; one that makes ska and reggae seem like a perfect fit with 21st-century musical trends. This record would be ideal for introducing these Jamaican styles to a new audience, and I hope they achieve that. Maybe, I’d enjoy the club if there were more upstrokes and horns instead of bass drops and mumble rap. It’s definitely an album that I’ll be listening to throughout the year.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy