Fabric

is The Black Seeds' sixth studio album, an impressive feat for any artist. The New Zealand reggae-dub group has an undeniable staying power - they're rooted in the Kiwi summer psyche, a staple of your average wine and food festival or beachside tavern summer series; jandal-clad Kiwis will inevitably be nodding their heads to

Fabric

this summer, Monteith's Summer Ales in hand.

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Technically, the record is impressive - but musically, the group are stuck in stasis. There's little to distinguish Fabric from their 2012 album Dust and Dirt, or their 2008 album Solid Ground, or their 2006 album Into the Dojo, etc, etc. That will work for many, especially die-hard fans, who will relish the return of Barnaby Weir's silky vocals, and the undeniably catchy bass lines that throb and pulsate throughout. But it's more of the same from The Black Seeds, and though they aren't pretending to be anything else, Fabric has little to say, and does little to justify its existence.

A heightened use of synths does add a new dynamic to the record; Back to You offers a skittery change of pace on which synth lines inject a refreshing urgency. Lead single Better Days, on which the band opt to not take themselves too seriously, is the most refined and playful song on the record. But the album dips on tracks such as Ride On, which features some cringe-inducing, self-referential lyrics, while Beleza's environmental message suffers from a lack of subtlety.

Fabric is a pleasant enough and sometimes soothing listen; it'll work perfectly as background music to fill silence at a summer barbecue. But ultimately, it lands like a beer that's been left just a little too long in the sun - unsatisfactory, but drinkable.

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The Black Seeds, Fabric

Artist:

The Black Seeds

Album:

Fabric

Label:

The Black Seeds Limited

Verdict:

New fabric, same material.

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