Sound: What is it about the British that everything they do has to be shrouded in mystery? The UK ensemble The Brighton Port Authority are completely shrouded in mystery about how they started, evolved, and why they have surfaced now. From what can be deciphered about their past, the BPS's beginnings are rooted in the early '70s by founding members Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) and Simon Thornton. Originally called the Brighton Phonographic Association, BPA were a bunch of local singers and session musicians brought together by Cook and Thornton who wrote and recorded songs in a worn-down warehouse in London, which became the BPA Studios. Over time, these aspiring songwriters went their separate ways until now when Cook and Thornton reunited for the making and release of the BPA's new album I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat from Southern Fried Records. Produced by Cook and Thornton, the album keeps in the spirit of the original BPA with a motley crew of singers and musicians coming together to put their own stamp on the record. 2009's newly formed BPA have such music veterans as Iggy Pop, Martha Wainwright, and David Byrne alongside a handful of aspiring starlets as Olly Hite, Jamie T, Emma-lee Moss, and Dizzee Rascal. What ties the new BPA together is what tied the original outfit, a love of making music that fits their particular style, and each track is perfectly tailored to the artist at the helm of the piece.
The aquatic atmospherics of Superlover are softly crimped to the exact measurements of Thomas Gandey's smooth vocal curves, and the jiggly ska-encrusted puffs of the horns in Toe Jam move in sync with David Byrne's pelvic-swinging grooves and additionally features the catchy rap versing of Dizzee Rascal in the bridge. The blue-eyed soul feel of So It Goes comes to life in the hands of Olly Hite's vocals, and the coarsely deep-toned textures of Iggy Pop's register ribs He's Frank with funky rock streaks. Pete York takes a modern approach in Dirty Sheets with slinky grooves that hold back some of the horniness in the lusty lyrics. The Latin flavored dancehall rhythms of Should I Stay Or Should I Blow are chained to a wicked flapping in Ashley Beedle's mirthful voice, and the suave voicing of Justin Robertson in Island is flambed in elevating atmospherics and lacy effects. The frilly Caribbean motifs lining Spade accentuate Martha Wainwright's vocals nicely, and the cruising calmness of Emma-Lee Moss' voice in Seattle is beautifully endowed as she glides through the track with sheer tranquility. // 8
Lyrics: Though each track is sung by a different artist, the lyrics all have a bit of a sizzle in them. Each song sheds light on basic human needs and sometimes lustful ways like in Should I Stay Or Should I Blow when Ashley Beedle touts, You got me sugar, once again / On the outside I'm your friend / On the inside I count to ten / My crazy heart just cannot win / And everyday it's yeah, yeah, yeah / And every night it's no, no, no / It's time to let me see / If what you're feeling just cannot be / I'm just too fast and you're so slow / Should I stay or should I blow. Emma-Lee Moss' words in Seattle are more revealing on an emotional level, Everything you ever did / Everything you ever said / Everything will I forget / Everything it ever meant / Somewhere in a foreign bed / Somewhere in America / You wake a little different / Forget where you have been / Remember where you are. // 8
Overall Impression: I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat pushes the envelope when it comes to what compilation discs can offer. Literally, there is something for everyone on BPA's new album from old-school Brit-punk like Jamie T in Local Town to reggae-foiled chic-pop like Connan Mockasin in Jumps The Fence and the smooth electro-pop atmospherics of Simon Thornton in Superman. BPA members include Norman Cook, Simon Thornton, David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Lateef, Dizzee Rascal, Emmy the Great, Jamie T, Martha Wainwright, Thomas Gandey, Justin Robertson, Ashley Beedle, Olly Hite, Conan, Pete York, and Jack Penate. It's an album that spans several ages and styles from '70s punk to modern day electro-pop. BPA are like one big happy family with not a single member sounding anything like the others. Everyone has their own style, and it really earmarks the album as a huge accomplishment for The Brighton Port Authority. // 8