Blackbird is a fine example of what Fat Freddy’s Drop do, but it’s not a pinch on what they’re really capable of. Their energy remains, as it always will, in their live shows.

Back in the day, Fat Freddy’s Drop were but a support act for the likes of New Zealand music royalty Salmonella Dub. Today, having survived where said band has perished, the fellow Kiwis have flourished on local and international soil. Planted a seed, in fact, and watched their tree grow and grow. Now an undeniable force in the dub scene, hundreds upon hundreds of live shows have amassed a huge fan base and, incredibly, this latest album is only their third full-length release.

Blackbird was recorded in the band’s own studio in New Zealand and, according to the band, directly resonates its direct environment. By the sound of the album opener and title track, this place is one mighty funky chill pad for the ska, reggae and, of course, dub inclined. And what an entrance to Blackbird – at almost ten minutes, it makes up for one-sixth of the whole album.

In fact, none of the songs on Blackbird seem to be over too quickly – just like the band, they linger and leak and lull through each beat with deliberation and purpose. ‘Clean the House’, three tracks into the album, welcomes frontman Joe Dukie’s butter-wouldn’t-melt vocals back to where they belong, continuing in the sensual groove of ‘Bones’…we certainly “can’t get enough of those bones.”

Lead single ‘Silver and Gold’ is obviously a stand-out track and, while it’s a bit anti-cool to brandish, as the album’s best track it does have a hellishly catchy chorus. Crouching in the more electro-influenced corner of the Fat Freddy’s room, ‘Never Moving’pulses with scattered energy as it broaches trance, psychedelic and deep house.

3.5/5 stars

BY JEN WILSON

Blackbird is out now through The Drop Ltd.

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