This is a bad album
Standing in 2014 and waving at 1971 shouting 'Look this is what you'll look like in the future', Soulhole provide us with modern day funk/soul compendium with a smile on its face.
The album is so retro it's hard not to start speaking in an early 70's US patois. Suffice it to say that this album is bad - superbad. (see what I did there?).
We have enjoyed the live outings of Soulhole for some time and it's fair to say they've become a mainstay of the local scene. This album provides regular fans with a disc of live staples but also gives the band a chance to try a few production techniques.
From the first bar of track 1 it's difficult to resist the urge to tap a toe in a typically reserved and British way of course. The first song up is the top quality 'shock! shock!' which you can have a taste of in the official video (right). See how many Bournemouth landmarks you can spot.
Classic Soulhole tracks 'Caught up in your headlights' and the crowd favourite 'Bag of fun' feature in what turns out to be very much an album of two halves, with a dancy funk led first half (or at least 5/9ths) and a much more contemplative second half (or 4/9ths if you're counting).
I was very pleased to see the best song in the world ever from bands based in Bournemouth and having a name beginning with 'S' and ending in 'hole', 'Cycle Sue' on the album. This is again classic Soulhole with a great funk sound but also lyrically fun with a story you can now have a listen to. I love the way the guys go out to a reporter in the field. Quality.
When we get to 'Got me shouting' we experience a gear change. I don't recall hearing this live (look I could deffo be wrong coz most of the time I'm trying to work out what setting to use on the camera) and maybe this is a sign that some of the chaps output is better suited to a recorded delivery method. (sounds like a post office service dunnit?). Either way this track vies with Cycle Sue for the title of my favourite on the disc.
Always impressive is the lyrical quality of their work and for me we can see this in the later part of the selection. The move away from upbeat dance tracks allows their message to be heard and it's a thoughtful one to say the least. Does this work in the context of an album? I'm not sure. It almost feels like we're experiencing two EPs here with a definite change in tempo and feeling between part 1 and 2. That's not to say we don't get good quality songage, just that there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what seems to be two sides of a divide.
What it does give us though is an inkling that there may be more on the way for the band. It'll be interesting to see what path they choose to follow with the massive amount of talent and potential that they clearly have. As a long time fan of acts like Squeeze and Elvis Costello I always appreciate bands that put thought and effort into the lyrical offering in their output.
This CD is a required purchase for confirmed Soulhole fans and local music connoisseurs alike. My recommendation is that you get yourself along to a gig and buy one from the chaps. Handily they are launching at Chaplins on 8th November so you may well need to get yourself along there!