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Morcheeba “Head Up High” – Album Review

PIAS (2013)

Renowned for possessing a much sunnier disposition than their trip-hop peers Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack, Morcheeba return arguably more cheerful than ever with Head Up High, their eighth studio album and their second since reuniting with their original vocalist Skye Edwards.

Indeed, the follow-up to 2011’s Blood Like Lemonade is arguably the London trio’s most playful effort to date thanks to an inspired list of collaborators which perfectly complement the Godfrey brothers’ slick and stylish production.

Invited to appear on Head Up High by Morcheeba after they heard one of her tracks on television show Breaking Bad, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux showcases her elegant lyrical flow on the country-tinged funk of “Hypnotized.” Flower power hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks lend their usual cheeky charm to the J Dilla-esque beats and bubbling synths of “To Be,” while the distinctive deep baritone of Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na provide a neat contrast to the sassy Motown-esque melodies of “Face Of Danger.”

But it’s James Petralli, the frontman of Texan garage rockers White Denim, who ends up stealing the show, whether it’s cooing alongside Skye’s alluring feathery light tones on the mellow smooth jazz of closer “Finally Found You” and the melancholic gospel balladry of “I’ll Fall Apart,” or taking centre stage on the grungy electro-blues of “Call It Love.”

Morcheeba aren’t afraid to genre-hop either, venturing into bump ‘n’ grind territory with the throbbing skank reggae of “Make Believer,” joining the two-step garage revival with the Middle Eastern-flavored “Under The Ice” and embracing the nocturnal sounds of the post-dubstep scene with “To The Grave.”

With their revolving door of lead vocalists, bitter court cases and string of patchy albums, Morcheeba appeared to be losing their way in the 00s. But Head Up High confirms that trip-hop’s  brightest outfit have rediscovered their spark.

4 / 5 stars     

About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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