Critics constantly babble on about the ‘curse’ of the second album, and the hefty weight of expectation on the shoulders of artists who have impressed with their debuts. Of course, all they really need to do is create something a little different with the same stamp of quality and this is exactly what Rizzle Kicks have pulled off. Roaring 20s doesn’t try to emulate it’s predecessor, but retains the youthful charm which was so prominent on their debut.
Roaring 20s is an aptly named album. Not only as they sing and rap about the problems and issues facing people in their twenties in the UK – such as on the first single taken from the album, ‘Lost Generation’ which is an ode to the disenfranchised modern society – but also because they mix the sound of 1920s jazz with the hip-hop pop which they are most synonymous with. The album capitalises on, and explores the sound which the duo touched on with ‘Down With The Trumpets’, and which has become so prominent in pop music in the past 18 months. From Rudimental’s use of brass in ‘Feel The Love’ to will.i.am’s sampling of the 1923 song ‘Charleston’ in ‘Bang Bang’, a modern twist on 1920s jazz is very much in, which means Roaring 20s is being released at exactly the right time.
Just ahead of ‘Lost Generation’, the stand out track on the album is undoubtedly ‘Skip To The Good Bit’ (which you might recognise from that Strictly Come Dancing advert). It’s sassy but simple, mixing clever lyrics and a chorus which is little more than an instrumental orgasm featuring a rousing mix of piano and matador-esque brass, intermittently intercepted with a “let’s skip to the good bit”. The track which should certainly be the band’s next single also sees a female voice interjecting the boys, adding saucy character and naughtiness to the song which, let’s face it, is all about sex.
In fact, the lyrical content of the record repeatedly returns to sex, which becomes increasingly mundane even if it is indicative of what’s on the mind of most male 20-somethings. Underneath some of the more obvious uses (“I love beer, I love rhymes, I love sex”) there are undercurrents of jibes at social expectations in ‘Lost Generation’ in which they sarcastically utter “Dam right I’m a slut, you know this / but I’m a boy it’s all good” and “Um what’s wrong if a girl loves sex? / It’s only wrong if it’s not with you, so maybe you should get better in bed.” The cheeky duo move away from meaningless flings and reveal a more vulnerable side in ‘I Love You More Than You Think’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ and ‘Me Around You’ where they admit genuine emotions, and clearly draw inspiration from past relationships. However, these tracks seem to be the ones which drag the most, and add a certain heaviness to the record.
If there were more tracks like ‘Lost Generation’ providing further social commentary on British society, the album would have more of a backbone. As it is, tracks like ‘Put Your Two’s Up’, ‘Me Around You’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ are nice enough, but don’t really make a point, on what definitely feels like a long album. Perhaps this is due to the exclusive focus on the 1920s and including brass on every track, but the lack of variation formulates a sound which becomes too familiar. Nevertheless, even with the blemishes, Roaring 20s is playful and engaging, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. As an attempt to combine life in your twenties in the UK, with sounds from the 1920s, Rizzle Kicks should be praised for innovation, even if the result is a little confused and unsure of itself. But perhaps this is what being in your twenties is all about… right?
Roaring 20s was released on 2nd September under the Island Records label.