A week to the day since Disclosure dropped their sophomore album, and along comes Rudimental – their louder, more erratic step-brother – with their own mighty return. The London quartet upped sticks and headed off to Jamaica to record the follow-up to the hugely popular Home, but evidence of this is in short-supply, as We The Generation mostly just delivers more of the same, for better or worse.
There is a worry as the album kicks off with ‘I Will For Love’, which so strictly adheres to the formula of what made ‘Waiting All Night’ a hit, that it contains zero original DNA. Second track ‘Never Let You Go’ suffers the same fate, trying so desperately to be ‘Right Here’ 2.0 that it does nothing but suffer by comparison. Things pick up significantly from there for a while, as the title track couples a massive bossa nova beat with vocalist Mahalia almost channelling Amy Winehouse with her smoky delivery. ‘Love Ain’t Just A Word’ is equipped with Dizzee Rascal, and much like Basement Jaxx and Calvin Harris before them, Rudimental brings out the absolute best in him.
As the rest of the album skips along, that back-and-forth keeps pushing and pulling our interest, things remaining, well, rudimental whenever it seems like Rudimental aren’t willing to try something new. A very easy, natural chemistry can be enjoyed on the incredibly sexy ‘Rumour Mill’ thanks to the vocal work by Will Heard and Anne-Marie, who separately appear nine (NINE?!) times through-out the whole album. MNEK comes correct with some new-school R’n’B on ‘Common Emotion’, as he rides along a very Nile Rodgers-esque slinky guitar riff. Everyone’s already heard ‘Bloodstream’, but Ed Sheeran Appearance Number Two on ‘Lay It On Me’ couples him up with a catchier chorus.
Not all of their experiments work out so great, mind. ‘Go Far’ buckles under the weight of its own positive messaging, and an ear-grating guitar solo makes it an automatic skip. A very cool, spooky synth beat on ‘Too Cool’ is wasted on the too-squeaky clean Ella Eyre, ‘All That Love’ is a very basic drum’n’bass power-ballad that we’ve heard dozens of times over in the last few years, and while we wanted to love the Spanish-guitar love-letter ‘Needn’t Speak’, there is such a thing as too low-key.
It’s hard to get to upset with any album that enlists Bobby Womack, whose indefinable greatness infuses closing track ‘New Day’ with more old-school personality than Rudimental could control, resulting in a track that sounds like it’s come from a completely different album. It just goes to show how indefinable this group and the resulting album actually is. Sure, there’s a handful of chart-bothering tracks on here, but you’d be hard-pressed to remember who they were by a year from now. Was it Gorgon City? Duke Dumont? Route 94? Right now Rudimental are nothing but a platform for supporting artists to get some spotlight, and We The Generation manages to be somewhat entertaining while having no personality of its own to speak of.