Updated: May 23
19 May 2023
Album Rating: 5/5
Live Potential: 5/5
Diversity in Songs: 5/5
Favourite Songs: Laoshu, Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic, Ruins Everything, In Tides
Snazzback's latest package, Ruins Everything, comes stamped with an upside-down chicken: an absurdist-minimalist image that seems to capture the wild and wonderful brilliance of the album.
The Bristol 7-piece have not missed with this one. Ruins Everything goes through a range of movements from euphoric jazz-funk to dark ambience and lyrical introspection, with a more experimental edge than either of their previous albums.
There are tracks for the dance floor like 'Gherkin', tunes with powerful vocal leads like 'Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic' (read our premiere here) and 'In Tides', as well as poetic interludes with the 'Birds and Trains' movements. Ruins Everything really is a complete package.
Snazzback consists of Dave Sanders on saxophone, Eli Jitsuto on guitar, Chris Langton on drums, Myke Vince on percussion, Will Scott-Hartley on bass duties, Hal Sutherland on keys, and Alfie Grieve on trumpet.
The album flickers into life with 'Laoshu': horn trills and keyboard chords sing in dialogue atop irregular percussive rhythms with the occasional guitar remark. Bass synths march the tune onward to a danceable groove.
The opening track delivers in a few minutes what the rest of the album holds: exciting grooves that lead into a vast range of sonic movements.
The music slows to the first 'Birds and Trains' interlude, featuring Adam Kammerling's poetic verses. 'Imagine now,' he begins, 'the yellowed squares of where tents were'. His words are accompanied by gorgeous, ambient keys.
As well as being a nod to absurdist art, underpinned by the album's artwork, Ruins Everything seems to be a love letter to the city of Bristol.
'Superstar Fish Bar' fits this theme. It's a fairly short track with long-held trumpet calls before a prodding rhythm. The tune is, I assume, named after the fish bar in Bristol (which has some pretty outstanding Google reviews).
The food theme continues with 'Gherkin', an energetic banger with relentless horns and percussive rolls.
The second single that was released prior to Ruins Everything comes in the form of 'Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic', a tune that soundtracks the Bristol dawn and walking around the city during the day's first glimmers. It features t l k's vocals, balancing the groove with calming tones.
After another poetic verse from Kammerling comes the title track, 'Ruins Everything'. It features words from Soss atop a powerful groove and alludes to finding solace through humour and joy within the dark times, or the 'ruins of everything'.
'The title itself is a nod to seismic shifts that are a recent memory for everyone,' the group explains. 'But in a much broader sense, the album is a reflection on new beginnings, of rising from the ashes of what was and to have the courage to create what is. It is a step into the unknown and a revelling in the joy of what is still to come.'
Whether these 'seismic shifts' are in reference to the pandemic, the ever-present climate crisis, or a number of things, the music certainly takes the listener through a range of feelings and leaves you with a sense of calm after the music has fizzled out.
In some parts the chaotic rhythms come hurtling at you, at others you're in the midst of euphoric jazz-funk movements, or just moments of beautiful silence; Ruins Everything chucks everything at you and captures the nuances of the present, past, and uncertain future.
The variety of moods, from the broken-chord passage of 'Around The Corner' to the upbeat strut of 'Vitamins', keeps the album feeling fresh with every listen.
'In Tides', the first pre-released single, starts with some rousing keys and horns to open up the tides of the song. Grove's lyrics begin in staccato fashion before the music rises like waves into an epic odyssey with horn stabs and pulsating percussive rhythms, all alongside Grove's rapping.
Ruins Everything comes to an end with the final 'Birds and Trains' track and Adam Kammerling's words, repeating similar words and similar imageries of the 'yellowed squares' of tents and Bristol landmarks.
Snazzback have produced another classic to go alongside 2018's Hedge and 2021's In The Place.
Ruins Everything builds on the neo-soul-jazz-funk power of the previous albums and takes the music into more experimental and abstract directions.
Snazzback are a band who's music is constantly evolving, and this next project pushes them further into the UK's ever-growing jazz and dance canon. Quite simply, an incredible album from an incredible group.
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