James Poyser has been a vital part of Philadelphia's Soulquarians generation, his production and keyboard skills crucial components in the success of such as Erykah Badu, Common, D'Angelo, Jill Scott and The Roots. With 'The Rebel Yell', he steps out as prime mover of his own project, fronted by lead vocalist SupaStar.
The new group is perhaps best characterised as Philly's equivalent of R&B crossover acts like OutKast and Gnarls Barkley. Thus does "Wanted" feature fluting "Strawberry Fields" mellotron with an itchy, grimy urban groove topped with a rap duet, while the metallic beats and tortured synth riff of "Everybody's Doing It" bring to mind The Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails. Elsewhere, the hippy philosophy of "Love & War" ("Love is but a state of mind/War lives where love is in decline") rides a weird blend of harpsichord, mellotron and celesta, instruments not over-used in R&B. At times, the arrangements can get a touch convoluted, their serpentine melodies and densely-layered swirls of guitar and keyboards obscuring whatever garbled points SupaStar is trying to make, but the results are never less than engaging. And it's impossible to dislike a band canny enough to update Gil Scott-Heron, pointedly observing that "The revolution will not be downloaded to your computer".
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