Album Review: Yes Sir Boss – Desperation State

Mark Butler delivers his verdict on the Bristol band’s debut album, out on November 5th.

The first act to be snapped up by Joss Stone’s record label ‘Stone’d’, Yes Sir Boss specialise in brass-infused rock that combines elements of funk, reggae and ska. As you might expect, for the most part it’s lively, energetic stuff – but the band do attempt to confound expectations slightly with a number of unusual touches and shifts in gear.

The opening title track suggests an act with supreme confidence and flair. Its slightly sleazy, offbeat reggae has a nice tongue-in-cheek feel, particularly when a late ‘Brass Band’ section gives way to a cheeky, sly dose of funk. There’s even a touch of pirate-core about the vocals and vibe.

Positive first impressions are only enhanced by instrumental track The Situation: a smile-inducing Spaghetti-Western interlude that’s all serenading trumpet and steely guitar jangles.

Indeed, Yes Sir Boss are more than capable of throwing a few surprises into the mix. The reflective, melancholy My My feels like it’s testing your patience for the first few minutes, but then its tiresome soul-searching crescendos into an absolutely awesome closing rock-out.

Elsewhere, the funky stylings, yelping vocals and oddball chorus of Pretty Thing feels like old-school Chili Peppers spliced with hints of cheesy stadium-rock, and there’s even a hint of country music on the final two tracks, with token acoustic-guitar led ballad Lose No More lifted by a fine, heartfelt vocal performance.

At times, it’s a confounding mix that feels all over the place, though if the entire album was as eclectic and interesting it would still be welcome.

Unfortunately, the Bristol six-piece do settle into a rather formulaic pattern at times. Not Guilty’s plodding reggae rhythm is liberated by the darker, more energetic conclusion, but the fittingly upbeat, optimistic Mr Happy – while perfectly nice – is a little predictable and dull.

The initially mad-cap ska of Never Know never actually builds to the satisfying pay-off you feel it needs, and Till You Get Yours is a decent but fairly standard slice of fuck-rock that’s only enlivened by its hispanic trumpets.

Yes Sir Boss show off enough interesting touches and energetic panache to explain why Ms Stone was so taken with them, yet they’re let down by a slight lack of spark and inspiration half the time. The end result is a selection of tracks that veer between intriguingly off-the-wall and disappointingly safe, with mixed results overall.

Desperation State is a debut that shows off real potential, but it’s a million miles away from setting the world on fire.


FMV Rating: ***



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