sat 18/09/2021

Album: Rudimental - Ground Control | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Rudimental - Ground Control

Album: Rudimental - Ground Control

Latest from London dance-pop quartet is half bland but half bangin'

Robocop's mate ED-209 gets a dancehall refit

To coin a cliché, the fourth album from London pop-dance success story Rudimental is a game of two halves. The first is off-putting and dull but halfway through, the band seem to wake up. There are 16 songs on the album.

The eighth, “Handle My Own”, is the first one to make the ears prick up, and from track 11 on we’re in continuous business.

A decade ago, the coming together of an unknown EDM trio, Rudimental, and a super-hot producer looking for a project, Amir Amor (who soon joined them), resulted in the chart-topping “Feel the Love”, featuring John Newman. The group encapsulated a moment when the clubland sounds of the previous two decades, notably drum & bass, were finally and fully co-opted into daytime radio chart-pop. Their sound was fizzy fun, school disco meets Notting Hill Carnival, and two more UK No.1s followed, as well as multiple other hits. Along the way they collaborated with everyone from Anne Marie, whose career they launched, to Ed Sheeran.

Ground Control exemplifies a delicate balancing act between hip mall background and something tastier. Nothing is memorable about the first seven songs, an over-smooth alcohol-free cocktail of suburban sports bar vibes and garage-tinted Radio One chug. This despite a bunch of collaborations, the most notable of which is the awful “Be Somebody” with airy-voiced singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow.

But arrive at “Handle My Own”, featuring 2012 X Factor alumna Ella Henderson, and you can safely crank things up. It’s a creditable funk-house floor-filler. From here (aside from the forgettable Skream hook-up "So Sorry"), it’s a mixture of ragga-rudeboy garage-grimey cuts such as the persuasively foul-mouthed “Instajets” featuring The Game, D Double E and Backroad G (“All these rappers on Instagram spending 30K on these jets/keep fuckin’ round, then fuck round, you’re gonna fuck around and be next”) and the insouciant party time bullishness of MORGAN on D&B banger “Hostess”; these are balanced beside 4/4 garage-house dance tunes, concluding with the gospel-juiced Balearic festival-stormer “Keep Your Head Up”, featuring the rich soul vocal of should-be-star star Hamzaa.

So… all’s well that ends well.

Below: watch the video for "So Sorry" by Rudimental featuring Skream (apologies, none of the good ones are on YouTube yet!)

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters