Monday, November 9, 2009

Big D and the Kids Table - Fluent in Stroll (2009)

Rude boys need not apply because this isn't ska- it's "stroll." In a departure from their traditionally uber-hyper punk-ska, Big D & the Kids Table claims to have fused reggae, dub, ska, soul and a myriad of other genres into the new sound called "stroll" on Fluent in Stroll. As a huge fan of Big D, I'm personally offended that they could completely throw out their signature sound and betray their fan base. However, it's pretty unfair to judge an album on what it doesn't do, so let's try and keep this focused on what it actually does do. Ska or not, Fluent in Stroll is still mediocre at best. This is a flat and uninspired album that drags on for fifty minutes, but does show some promise for all of the "strollers" out there.

Lyrically it's a mixed bag; sometimes David McWane crafts thoughtful lyrics, and other times he pours out sappy love themes. Worse though are the painfully stupid nonsense lyrics straight out of Grease's "We Go Together" that pepper tracks. The title track opens with a shrill and piercing vocals, akin to nails on a chalkboard, vamping "Chin-chin, chadda-wadda-wa he." Speaking of vocals, the guest backing vocals provided by The Doped up Dollies does everything but tank the opening and title tracks in my opinion. Most songs plod along at slow tempos vamping ad nausea, but occasionally the group will ramp up to a faster rock'n'roll tempo for old times sake. And why bother keeping around three horn players if you're going to keep them inconspicuously in the background except for the occasional riff? But it's not all bad and high points include the Strictly Rude style "Been Wishing On" and "Chin Up, Boy!", and the surprisingly catchy "Not Fucking Around."

Judged on its own merits, Fluent in Stroll would probably a promising, but ultimately mediocre, d├ębut attempt by an up and coming band experimenting in a "new" genre. It really isn't a terrible album if you cut it some slack for being the first entry in the "stroll" cannon. However, long time fans of Big D's distinct Third Wave sound will mourn this as the band's complete abandonment of their punk-ska roots.

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