For those of you who have already read the interview with the Drum ‘n’ Bass duo in this issue, you will notice that Jeremy Glenn, one of the two producers who make up Wellington based group The Upbeats, likes his music varied and explorative. Opening track ‘Hello’ reinforces this notion. Slow and melancholic, it fizzes momentarily before breaking away into a folk-like rhythm as Dylan Jones, the other half of the group, picks and slides his way through the frets of a steel string acoustic guitar.
Instantly dismissing the idea that these two are merely ‘beat-freak’ obsessive computer nerds, track two, ‘Drizzle’, picks up the pace ever so slightly. Still downbeat like its predecessor, The Upbeats introduce sultry female vocals into the mix. These are credited to M. Martin in the CD booklet, who I feel deserves a mention of her own, in helping shape what was already a tranquil instrumental into a recognisably great pop song.
A far cry from the harder Drum ‘n’ Bass rhythms of tracks like ‘Peep Hole’ and ‘Teef Smasha’ the band awards more credit to its name, introducing more upbeat breaks on tracks three and four, ‘From The Deep’ and ‘More Than Me’, respectively. As the album progresses it seems to become more dance floor oriented. A carefully planned move or merely a coincidence, it seems oddly brave to begin a debut album ever so bittersweet when you call yourself The Upbeats, however it works like a charm.
I would go as far as saying track 8, ‘View From The Inside,’ is a small masterpiece, and I’ve never been a Drum ‘n’ Bass fan. Perhaps aficionados could correct me in this respect, but the groups’ songs seem to be carefully orchestrated and to the point. This is easily the best local album I’ve heard this year, seriously, and I will reiterate: I’ve never been a Drum ‘n’ Bass fan!