The Black Seeds

Easy Star Records, 2017


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Reggae is alive and well in New Zealand, as proved by the always impressive The Black Seeds. Though they may be most known for their hit on the TV show Breaking Bad, they've also racked up multi-platinum sales across the globe and have made their incendiary live shows legendary in a nearly two-decade existence. After a five-year hiatus, the outfit returns with their sixth studio album, which took the last two years to flesh out into this groove-filled masterpiece.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The groove doesn't take long to sink in here, as opening track “Better Days” is chock full of it: vocal echoing, organs, and a hazy, fun feeling. “Everybody Knows” follows and brings a funky, soulful tone with it, as well as a mysterious, late night feel with plenty of bass grooves. Almost as if an evolution of sounds, by the third track the band is bordering on disco-rock with the aptly titled “Freakin',” one of the few tracks here that steps away from reggae.

The middle of album is full of varied sounds, from the electronica influenced “Lightening Strikes” to the percussive heavy and more traditional reggae of “Moving On,” to the spacey, horn friendly stylings of “Ride On.” Meanwhile, “Back To You,” a more dance-rock inspired tune, is easily the most accessible songs that would have mainstream appeal.

As the album progresses it becomes even more eclectic, such as with the other worldly, psych-rock influence of “Fabric” and the political spoken word of “Beleza.” “The Weaver” sounds like a tune we rollerskated to in 1984. The album exits on the layered keys of “Lost In The Bush,” which punctuates just how much synth is present on the listen.

It would seem like a disservice to call The Black Seeds a reggae outfit, as the sounds here encapsulate electro-pop, dance, funk, and soul among others. At 12 tunes (and several that are over five minutes), it's a lengthy listen, especially if you're not a rabid fan of the genres. But the technical proficiency certainly makes it difficult to not enjoy on some level.

Rating: B

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