Upbeat Allstars – Wake Up

A new guise for some familiar faces, Upbeat Allstars are already making big promises…

Rating: 7.5/10

It’s always interesting when band mates go their separate ways. We begin to see whose tastes have had the dominant influence on the band’s back catalogue.

Take Blink-182 – while Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker stayed (reasonably) true to their form in +44, Tom DeLonge decided it was time to indulge his God complex. Step forward Angels and Airwaves. No surprise then that their reunion was an equal mix of form and indulgence.

On a slightly smaller scale, Former New Rioter (and Fandangler) Andy Baker is back on the radar with his latest outfit, Upbeat Allstars, who boast a more obvious ska-punk sound than we’ve seen from NR’s latest release.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I hit play on Upbeat Allstar’s second release in 12 months. As hard as this is to admit, I half-expected UA’s female-fronted ska to be a little…delicate. The genre is hardly the “beefiest” sounding, so replacing husky tones with a female voice threatened (in my mind, anyway) to be overkill. Oh, how wrong I was…

Powerful, gutsy and versatile, the vocals are what turn this album from decent to very good. Resting on a solid backing, they swing from quietly pensive to frantically passionate, making for an album that offers something very different from a lot of other UK ska-punk.

In places, though, Wake Up succumbs to the seemingly predestined pitfall for (most) ska-punk, insofar as it becomes difficult to differentiate between the songs – a flaw exacerbated by the number of songs on offer. This is only a minor quibble, though – often this issue is hidden behind the sheer prominence of the vocals, which rightfully steal the show.

If you’re after something a little different from your ska-punk, look no further than Upbeat Allstars. All they need now is for their reputation to catch up to their talents…

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