Offering another healthy if sometimes unpalatable dose of nostalgic eighties- and nineties-influenced indies rock, Superfood’s second record Bambino take the band to all-new highs, but the newly-condensed band (only two out of the four original members remain) still haven’t managed to cut the filler – an issue which plagued their first release, Don’t Say That.
Bambino bursts opens with the danceable, almost disco ‘Where’s the Bass Amp’, a song which wouldn’t sound out of place on a 1975 record while retaining the signature Superfood sound. However, it’s clear from the start that the two-piece have largely shredded the guitars to focus more on a bass-and-drum-and-sample combination, removing a lot of the distracting layers of sound which dragged down their debut record.
Still, the two-piece are keen to not leave their past behind them altogether. With a beat which initially seems to anticipate a reggae party track, second song ‘I Can’t See’ is more reminiscient of the slower moments on Don’t Say That, an easy-listening number which still sounds better than most of that first release.
“One of the shiniest moments on the album”
‘Unstoppable’ takes Bambino into a whole new direction altogether, a pre-release single which didn’t receive anywhere near the amount of attention it deserved. Built on bouncing beats and sparse Eastern-influenced guitars leading towards an adrenaline-charged chorus whose power gets unfortunately a little lost in production, this is experimental even for a band who were never afraid to be a bit strange, and is one of the shiniest moments on the album.
Then comes the first of two short musical instrumentals (a third, ‘c is for colour’, is way too long), – an unwelcome addition in an age of skippable, rendering most interludes of the sort unnecessary and self-indulgent, especially when they are accompanied by gimmicks which only serve to take listeners away from the flow of the record (what’s up with that static on ‘wibble mtn’!?).
If these musical instrumentals serve any purpose at all, it seems to be to mask the declining quality of the album. After such a strong start, ‘Natural Supersoul’ is an infectious but otherwise underwhelming throwback track which would have better suited their debut. Happily, things pick up again on ‘Need A Little Spider’, the darkest and most guitar-driven songs on the album, as well as the most musically interesting, especially when the song twists and warps in its second half, leading up to an explosive middle-eighth.
“Superfood stumbled into a song too big”
But by ‘Radiance’, it becomes apparent that the second half of Bambino, instead of letting itself evolve, tries too hard to capture the highs of the first. ‘Raindance’ – full of ideas and a chorus which would have been fantastic if it was turned up a notch – could have been amazing if it was given room to grow. Unfortunately it seems here that Superfood stumbled into a song too big that they felt compelled to keep it on its reins, resulting in a song which while still great is far from stellar.
After the most unnecessary song on the record, the uninteresting light bass interlude ‘c is for colour’, following track ‘Double Dutch’ doesn’t fare much better. While the sparse vocals and random conversational samples – this might have made a good hip-hop song in somebody else’s hands – are interesting at first, the song evolves into something too repetitive that when its 3.16 run is over Bambino is starting to feel a bit too tired, and ‘Shadow’ and ‘Witness’ don’t do much to wake it up.
Luckily closing song ‘Clo Park’ is better and a masterclass in easy-listening – the record does not go out so much on a bang but a sigh, but a sigh pleasant enough to help listeners forget if not quite forgive the tedious twelve minutes which has led to this moment.
“Superfood have found a style which works for them”
Just like many nineties records Superfood seem inspired by here, Bambino is full of great tunes plagued by a few too many filler tracks. Still, this is a massive improvement over their repetitive, rushed and sometimes unlistenable debut Don’t Say That – it seems like Superfood have found a style which works for them, and if the two-piece continue to pursue this sound, they may start to reach the highs their singles have always shown they’re capable of.
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