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Soul Hooligan

Music Like Dirt

Release Date: 05.21.02
Record label: Maverick
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


by: matt cibula

Soul Hooligan is a British trio whose first album careens wildly between electronic pop, techno, rock, downtempo, soul, new wave, blues, and rap. They sound kind of like the Beta Band, but only kind of, considering that "Who's To Say" is a straight-up Gomez rip, and I'm not the first person to remark on the similarity between opener "Algebra" and half the songs on the Gorillaz album. So this should be a slam-dunk review, right? Critics were invented to diss bands like this. Easy lines come to mind: "Soul Hooligan are jacks of all genres...and masters of none!" or "Soul Hooligan proves that they can do anything...except sound good!"

But these clichés just wouldn't be true. Actually, this album is a lot of fun when it tries to be; I think it's pretty ballsy--and it sounds pretty great in the car. "Turn Your Head Around" is a psychedelic stunner with a way-too-fast beat and a couple great harmonica riffs; Dave Jay's rap on "Stoop Kid" is repetitive but not actually too awful to listen to, as long as you don't take hip-hop too seriously; and "Addicted" is glorious butt-shaking miserableness. It's all very much "Hey, Mom, we made an album! Look what we can do!" And just exactly why is that a problem?

Oh, I'm not saying that Soul Hooligan will someday conquer the world, or that this is the CD that I'd want playing if the other critics were coming over. But who cares about all that? It's FUN, damn it, and that's what music's supposed to be. "Numb in Both Lips" is definitely the bizness, despite its blatant jacks from "It Takes Two" and "This is a D.A.I.S.Y. Age," and the way it butts up against the Brit-poppy "Psychedelic Soul" will make your head spin around a few times. And just exactly why is that a problem?

I did feel guilty a couple of times for not worrying about the lyrics, but Jim Sumner's voice is too pretty and soulful to worry about what he's actually saying. Yeah, he sounds a bit like Ben Ottewell like Gomez, but he's not doing that on purpose -- he's just got one of those great Memphis soul voices, except that he's from London. And studio whiz Austin Reynolds provides you with some weird little soundscapes that you won't be able to get out of your head for at least a few hours or so.

And check out the last track, the five-minute "Time Goes By." It's straight-up Pink Floyd blues, and it sounds perfectly appropriate. Man, what is happening to me? Am I liking this record? Have I lost my damned mind? Well, yes to both of the last two questions. 03-Sep-2002 9:15 PM