Last year's unavoidable summer hit “Feel the Love” announced Rudimental as a strong new force in UK R&B, and hearing again the way that John Newman's soulful vocal rides the hurtling momentum of that drum'n'bass riff, it's clear that the track has an adhesive, memorable quality beyond the shelf life of much homegrown music.
Unlike so much routine R&B hackwork, the individual components here are seamlessly combined, confirmation of the production team's strategy of having the singers involved throughout the process, rather than added as afterthoughts. This is most obviously effective in the two cuts featuring the ubiquitous Emeli Sandé, “More Than Anything” and “Free”, at least one of which should be a hit.
On the former, her tremulous vocal evokes the numb isolation of a scarred soul desperate for love, with soaring backing-vocal affirmations sending shafts of light through its cloudy minor-key orchestration, while the latter's simple kick-drum and damped guitar figure are ingeniously brought to life by Sandé's joyous assertion of personal liberation: “So oh, c'est la vie/And maybe something's wrong with me/But oh, at least/I'm free, I am free”.
John Newman contributes another standout vocal to “Not Giving In”, where his delivery is another perfect fit, this time with the brassy horn fanfares and massed backing vocals of a big classic-soul production.
Elsewhere, rapper Angel Haze is neatly matched with the subtle, itchy guitar and synth arrangement of “Hell Could Freeze”, while singers MNEK, Syron and Sinead Harnett bring disparate depth and texture to several tracks, notably the latter's “Hide”, a self-lacerating piece set to a dark undertow of deep, fluting synth punctuated by sparse piano figures and skeletal percussion.
But just when you think it's done, it finds another gear through the ingenious addition of a subtle offbeat that kicks the groove up a notch – the kind of sly, brilliant touch that suggests Rudimental are worthy heirs to the likes of Soul II Soul and Basement Jaxx.
Download: Feel the Love; Free; Hide; Not Giving In; More Than Anything