Brothers And Sisters / Lakuta

Album cover art for upc 5060205156853
Catalog: 205156853
Format: CD


The lead single from Lakuta’s much awaited Brothers & Sisters, ‘Bata Boy’, has already garnered some considerable success. Formerly the Kalakuta Millionaires, and well known on Brighton’s live scene, Lakuta’s uncompromising afro-latin backdrop doesn’t lend itself to radio-friendly, easily marketable releases: live, some songs can be ten minutes long, and rammed full of jams. The question of whether a record could capture their on-stage magic is a fair one - luckily their producer, Nick Faber, had the sense to leave Lakuta be, as far as possible, while fitting their rampant style onto a ten-track album. The album is fierce from the opener. Homophobia, sexual discrimination and violence are the subjects of the first track ‘Bata Boy’, making for an intense and defiant start, backed up by speedy rhythms and blaring horns. Musically it’s almost overflowing, which reflects Lakuta’s brimming makeup. Its central refrain “We will not stand for this/ we will say yes no more” will be repeated, in one form or another, in other songs. The second track, ‘Rice and Peace’, and the fifth, ‘Yansan’, also deal with marginalisation. The latter openly speaks of passion and war, and verges on menacing. The third, ‘So Sue Us’, relates to a dispute with a music industry professional. Conflict, along with the defiant stance, feature heavily across the first half of the album. There’s anger in these songs, but that’s not to say that that they culminate in a violent sound: in these early tracks, the band express their anger over music that is forceful, but essentially playful. ‘Yansan’ lets lead Siggi Mwasote’s voice come out, cutting through the oppressive background, while ‘Rice and Peace’ is built on breezy tropical guitar and uplifting brass lines. It’s very pleasing to find the harshest track, ‘Yansan’, placed next to ‘Changanya’, the softest, where the brass section show they can play with subtlety as well as power, and which features some exquisite kora. From here the album mellows out nicely from the initial burst of passion, becoming more sunny and celebratory. Siggi’s voice is given more space to shine over gentler instrumentation, as in ‘Lose Yourself’, while songs like ‘Mr Serious’ are charming, light and groovy, giving a hint of the instrumental jams the band are capable of live. The second half of the album may feel brighter, but lyrically it’s just as serious. This is a duality which is replayed throughout the album, where the tone of the song deliberately stands opposed to its message. It’s a device which adds depth and dimension to the album, and is only one way in which this is a conflicted record: on the one hand its subjects are deeply confrontational, but on the other, they promote an overarching message of unity and acceptance. Musically it’s expansive, undoubtedly written and performed by artists of the highest calibre. It’s also a very real and relatable album, in that its themes of marginalisation, maternity and family clearly reflect the lives and experiences of the musicians. In this way it’s able to be both generally politicised and deeply personal. Again, the transition to an album must have been a difficult one for Lakuta. The struggles between band and producer over the length of songs and the number of solos, must have been mammoth. Both had to tread a fine line, but ultimately Lakuta have not been sterilised by the recording process. They remain passionate and vibrant and willing to tackle difficult subjects in their music. The album sees their sound trimmed down to one that works beautifully on record, while retaining the fluidity and energy of live performance, which is the cornerstone of their style. Ben Noble

Price: $13.98