BMG 17th May, 2019
The massively heavy opener, Heavy For You, sets the scene for this hard rocking soul and blues album. Like a head-shaking Sam and Dave, the rest of the album is more measured but as soulful and punchy. Very much in the 2019 soul revival mode, The Heavy sound like an excellent prospect for a top dancing and shaking night out.
Better As One carries a vintage Stax sound. Songs tend to the impassioned and punchy, the strong vocals of Kelvin Swaby convincing us of the band’s sincerity. Better As One deplores the events of Charlottesville and the divisions of Brexit. Other songs like Fighting For The Same Thing have a message of unity, while the band aren’t averse to good old fashioned love and relationships going wrong. The punchy yet weaving groove of Put The Hurt On Me has a nice cowbell sound – actually a wineglass struck. They can do funk as well and Simple Thing is sharp and runs on a clever beat. A Whole Lot Of Love is again hugely loud and driving.
This is their fifth album and they seem to have built a bigger name internationally than here, despite being from the West Country. Their material seems ideal for a festival, grabbing the ears with recognisable tropes, while wailing with energy that keeps the focus and shifting styles before you are even settled. Leaping on from their four albums with the extremely cool Ninja Tunes label, the band are clearly hoping that the huge BMG will break their name large and it just might do that. There’s nothing to not like here and it pleases soul lovers, blues lovers, dancers, rock fans and anyone in between. Non-stop powering through a varied set with big hooks and a lot of volume, this is one to shove in the car for a quick blast.
It’s a throwback to older traditions of rock, like crunching Southern Rock or Humble Pie, etc, yet the spirit is strong and this is the medium to challenge their anger and hope rather than the product of any revivalist stylistic tendencies. Sweaty and moved at the end of the album, you’ll be amazed that the 11 songs have spanned a mere 35 minutes. Each one pared down to a blast of energy, this set will win the band more friends.