illScarlett – ‘1up!’ Album Review

illScarlett - 1up!

Artist: illScarlett
Title: ‘1up!’
Label: Sony Music
Rating: 4/5

Summary: Ontario’s illScarlett release a slow burning gem of a follow up to their gold certified stunner ‘All Day With It’. For fans of Sublime, RX Bandits, Lucky Boys Confusion and Bedouin Soundclash.

Review:
Ontario’s illScarlett have blazed an impressive trail since forming in 2001. They have four major studio albums, including: ‘iLLP,’ ‘Clearly in Another Fine Mess,’ ‘All Day With It,’ (achieving gold in Canada) and most recently “1UP!”

illScarlett infuse rock, reggae and dub influences to great effect; offering richly layered yet deeply organic cuts album-wide on 1up! While opener ‘Take It For Granted’ is a little throw-away, they hammer things home with ‘Extra! Extra!’, which is not only beautifully constructed but replicates the catchiness of previous hit ‘Who’s Got It?’. Vocalist Alex Norman has a truly impressive range his rich vocal experimentation throughout suggests he is one of the most underrated vocalists in rock today.

illScarlett share a host of similarities with Chicago’s now defunct Lucky Boys Confusion as well as seminal rock-reggae hybrids Sublime and will be a welcome addition to the collection’s of fans seeking artists following in these act’s footsteps. That is not to say illScarlett are tired or unoriginal, far from it in fact! ‘Milkshakes & Razorblades’ is a real album highlight and encapsulates the band’s energy and style perfectly. Whilst ‘Sorry’ is equal parts sun-drenched and intimate with it’s teasing acoustic backdrop and candid delivery.

Their latest record takes a step towards an even more intricate and dare I say it ‘mature’ sound. On first impressions it falls short of previous full length ‘All Day With It’. However while ‘1up!’ is definitely less immediate; it rewards listeners who are prepared to spend a few hours getting to know it. If ‘All Day With It’ was the rowdy summer beach-BBQ, ‘1up!’ is the evening on the back porch, drinking beers and reminiscing with close friends.

illScarlett are still a little way off a truly consistent album; nevertheless they get a little closer with each release. In some respects, they are their own worst enemy, as even decent tracks can feel average on an album laced with a smattering of retina-burningly-bright highlights. In other words – when these guys are good – they are very, very good.

Track Listing:
1. Take It For Granted
2. Extra, Extra!
3. Funky Rep.
4. Get Famous (Tonight)
5. Milkshakes & Razorblades (feat. Kardinal Offishall)
6. Freezing
7. Can’t Sleep
8. Too Sure
9. Nothing Once Again
10. Sorry
11. Easy
12. 1up

For fans of: Sublime, RX Bandits, Lucky Boys Confusion and Bedouin Soundclash.
Download: ‘Extra Extra!’

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