Review | Songlines


Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Songhoy Blues


Transgressive Records


‘Badala’, the opening track on Songhoy Blues’ third album, is rather alarming – which of course was the band’s intention. Badala is Songhai for ‘we don’t give a fuck’ and it finds the band going wall-shakingly heavy metal. Driven by a head-banging riff that Led Zep might have been proud of and with a shouty punk vocal of the kind Johnny Rotten once patented. It’s a mighty noise that is fine for its 2:40 duration but leaves you somewhat nervous; you most definitely wouldn’t want a whole album that battered your senses like this.

Fortunately the second track, ‘Assadja’, reverts to the thrilling desert blues grooves of their 2015 debut Music in Exile, which won them Best Newcomer at the Songlines Music Awards. It still rocks as hard as it comes, but mercifully they sound like an African rock’n’roll band rather than a Motörhead tribute act. For the third time in as many albums they’ve turned to a Westernised indie rocker as producer, with Matt Sweeney of Chavez ensuring that there’s no let-up in the turbo-charged energy levels and that the guitars soar and distort in all the right places. It’s their toughest rocking set to date, but once they’ve got that bludgeoning opening track out of their system they never lose touch with their roots in Malian tradition.

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