There is a point on “A Band On Hope”, the new album by front man Ill Literate and multi-instrumentalist producer Kristian Sharpe, that caused this writer to pause the music, take off the headphones, take a step back and think. This point occurs toward the end of the eighth track, “Russian Dolls” and it was indicative of the style, power and the production of this album that often leaves the listener with nothing else to do but reflect in awe.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most interesting releases of the year. The lyrics by Ill Literate are some of the punchiest and most thought provoking you’re likely to hear. The albums contains stories about a boy and his first crush which as the song continues, has a very sad and de-moralizing ending. The song I mentioned, “Russian Doll”, recalls the story of a baby being born into a family of a drug abusive mother and a runaway Dad and of children in similar circumstances.
All these tales are intertwined so simply and told so vividly it would be hard to believe they’re not real. There are songs of self-doubt, about living in poverty, dependence on others within relationships and fear that a girlfriend is holding him back from living out his potential. The hard hitting and honest nature of the lyrics helps the listener to feel more and thus care more about the album. Lyrically there is little to be criticized, except maybe for the continual space references on every song, which are slightly too noticeable.
Production wise A Band On Hope is also incredibly interesting. The live instrumentation does wonders for the feel of the album and the electronics don’t disappoint. Each song is as varied as the next, and this allows the listener to pay attention for longer, as each song snaps you back to pay attention.
From the first minute to the last, you can hear the British ebb and flow on this album. It’s hard to hear many of the songs and not be drawn automatically to the Beatles sample, or the Bowie inspiration and even the ska- band feel of Madness. While that’s good to hear it can often be distracting. By drawing so heavily that it’s noticeable, the album can quickly turn into a game of find the sample, and lead the listener to not listen to the heart-felt lyrics of this tape, but be drawn to remember the sax solo of a song they heard growing up.
Overall a very impressive album from a very unique pairing. I will be coming back to this album in the next few weeks undoubtedly. There are minor flaws but the potential is definitely there and it is ready to be pounced on.
Get the album on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-band-on-hope/id1145472404