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.

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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