Tribal Seeds | Representing | New Music Review
Representing’s titular track opens harmlessly enough with pan flutes that could’ve come right out of a fifth grade recorder songbook—off-beat, a few clinks on the cymbals, notes here and there... and then those reverb-laden drums start to build in the fourth bar, the trills become methodical... and we’ve arrived.
From here on out, the album can be divided into two halves—the first, a solid mix of old simplicity and new production, an all-around fun listen without many breaks. For upbeat reggae vibes, you needn’t look further than “Rock the Night” and “Fill It Up.”
Then at number four we get to “In Your Area,” which features Slightly Stoopid’s Kyle McDonald and is a dead ringer for an Everything You Need b-side. This is the turning point.
Post-McDonald, the album starts to slow its roll, drawing from Tribal Seeds’ dub-ier toolbox to craft some interesting sounds, to say the least. And a good share of the latter tracks fare just fine at the slower tempo—“Blood Clots” featuring Don Carlos is actually one of the album’s strongest offerings, in my opinion. Still, parts from this traditionalist stretch do fall prey to some of the contemporary trappings of the genre—polish, pitch correction, and reverberation are all well and good—(hell, it sometimes feels like modern reggae wouldn’t exist without ‘em)—but I wish Tribal Seeds would’ve focused on the unique—not the go-to—when in doubt on this record. With the shining moments that are already here—Mykal Rose on “Herb Stock,” the “Night and Day” breakdown, etc.—this could have been a truly special package if it could hold on for forty-minute. Instead, Representing falters with snippets like a riddim release on loop (see “Undercover Lover,” which immediately reminded me of the Street Soul Riddim Selection that introduced Romain Virgo’s “Cry Tears for You...” as well as eleven lesser verses over identical backing)—no, there are no bad songs to be found, and they’ll definitely all have fans, but I could personally do without the glossy keeping-up-with-the-selectors filler here. Oh well, though, even Zeppelin had In Through the Out Door.
While at times convoluted and others bordering on the generic, Representing doesn’t fall prey to any glaring issues for the duration of the set. A lack of explosiveness might keep this one from reaching the upper tiers, but there are enough diverse features here to keep the album fresh throughout—something a few of this band’s more one-dimensional peers tend to struggle with—and Tribal Seeds is consistently rock solid on delivery. With summer right around the corner, this is a great handful of songs to throw on with the barbecue and chill.
Representing is out May 13th.