Everyone loves getting something for nothing and over the past few months quite a few high profile artists have released their albums as free downloads. Kominas is defiantly the edgiest out of all them. With the current issues about internet piracy and legislation to stop file sharing, knowing I legally downloaded this album from a website that is now being shut down makes me feel rebellious before I started listening.
I only discovered The Kominas recently, after their brilliant BBC Live Session at Maida Vale. Other reviewers better acquainted with The Kominas’work have said this album is more grown up, less Taqwacore. The sound of the band has changed with the line up and they now sound less angry. Perhaps this is a grown up sound, but I can still hear the anger in this album. but it’s more well thought out protest than full on riot. Although not as shocking as a large riot, a protest can still get results and this album does.
Arguably, this sound is more commercial and made to appeal to a wider, English speaking international audience. With the exception of Bhung Ho, the lyrics are all in English. Even then the lyrics only start halfway through the song. It’s also significant that Bhung Ho is tucked out of the way at the end of the album, which is a shame as it’s a great a song.
In many tracks the lyrics come second to the music. In Left Right Left, the vocals are very quiet and almost drowned out by the guitars. Nafs Said is an almost instrumental which is incredibly catchy despite its scant lyrics. When the tracks have lyrics, they are clever and well written. Disco Uncle is superb. It has a funky 70s vibe and simple but hard hitting lyrics with a dark sense of humour. No One’s Gonna Honour Kill My Baby (But Me) has a nice retro feel. Like Disco Uncle, it’s lyrics are dark and clever.
Tahrir Square Dance shows the band are keeping up with the current big issues. This is a catchy with repetitive lyrics. Doomsday is another track which is catchy and repetitive and undergoes a personality change when it morphs into a slower track halfway through.
The album art is beautiful and I prefer it to the usual posed shot of band members. It seems out of place with the rest of the album as it’s too folksy and colourful. However, I think it reflects the tracks it represents. Many of them seemed to be about one thing then towards the end of the song the lyrics or the tempo would change and I saw the song in a different light. With its changing speeds and moods, My Friend, My Friend is one such song.
Verdict: Post Arab Spring and post Megaupload, this is an album perfectly suited to the current zeitgeist. The songs are funky, catchy and clever without being pretentious. If you didn’t manage to download it before Megaupload disappeared, make sure you find a friend who did.