The opening query on Rizzle Kicks' follow-up to Stereo Typical –“What you got a naggy face for?” – is an apt gambit, both for its delicious use of evocative slang and as a marker to the album's attitude. Because it's hard to imagine anyone keeping a sour visage when faced with the duo's rumbustious, rapscallion patter, as zestful a representation of young British pop-art style as you'll hear all year.
Through 14 tracks, Jordan and Harley offer a fast-talking, witty and well-meaning account of day-to-day life for sharp-eyed British youth, finding new angles on such perennial dilemmas as chatting up a girl without appearing a twat (“Wind Up”), being an under-achiever at school who comes to articulate life at night (“Lunatic”), and in “Me Around You”, that most sensitive of issues: how to tell a mate you're glad he's broken up with his girlfriend, without triggering a row – a situation brilliantly summarised in the couplet, “It wasn't cool, you were a different you, acting like she was going to fit into a missing shoe”.
There's room for a smidgeon of darker social issues – notably the observation, “Some of the things that happened in Neasden weren't pleasing, the stabbings and beatings” – but they're kept to passing asides. Instead, they prefer to slip in sly digs like the one in the single “Lost Generation” about being “more confused than all of John Terry's black friends” – regarding which they apparently sought legal advice in advance of its release.
Ant Whiting's production applies appropriately bouncy, ebullient settings to the duo's raps, while the use of brash trumpet and sax lends additional spark, particularly on the reggae grooves to “Me Around You” and “Wind Up”, and the infectious “Skip To The Good Bit”. But there's an extra dimension added by the occasional jazz elements, especially Jamie Cullum's guest croon and antique R&B piano groove to “The Reason I Live”, bearing out the track's recommendation of old classics as salve for the irritations of modern life. What better way to dispel the naggy face?
Download: Lost Generation; The Reason I Live; Me Around You; Skip To The Good Bit