Rising to No.1 on the UK Albums chart within days of its release, Rudimental’s latest album We The Generation shows a degree of versatility previously unheard in their music. However, the basic Drum’n’Bass patterns are still greatly relied upon and largely undermine the attempts to broaden the sound beyond its formulaic parameters.
We The Generation follows the multi-platinum selling debut album Home (released in 2013) and is undoubtedly an attempt to create a different and perhaps slightly maturer sound, and to an extent Rudimental are successful in this. Heavily featuring newcomers Anne-Marie, Will Heard and Mahalia, the album contains a number of interesting songs that showcase the ability of Rudimental to explore beyond the relative simplicity of their Drum’n’Bass origins. ‘We The Generation’ (ft. Mahalia) is the track after which the album is named and the first song to be heard that reveals a new style to Rudimental’s music, forgoing intense, bass-led choruses for a relaxed yet confident song about a generation that ‘have had enough’, and is one of the standout tracks of the album. ‘Rumour Mill’ has a similarly laid-back feel to it, ‘Common Emotion’ is a successful attempt at R&B and ‘Foreign World’ is a highly sensual pop song and a complete departure from what one expects from Rudimental. The same can be said for ‘New Day’ (featuring the late Bobby Womack as one of his last recordings), the closing track which is almost entirely funk-inspired.
Nevertheless, the album contains its fair share of fast-paced, bass-heavy tracks that characterised Rudimental’s earlier music. Whilst these are relatively well-placed to provide intermittent bursts of energy, they make the timing of the album’s release questionable; this style (with which the London collective are most associated) would arguably have been better suited to summer parties and sun-filled festivals than the ever-darkening autumn nights. Strange release date aside, there are some impressive big Drum’n’Bass moments across the album. While ‘I Will For Love’ is an underwhelming start to the album (failing to chart in July of this year), ‘Never Let You Go’ which follows it is among the strongest bass-dominant tracks on it, and shows the continuation of Rudimental’s skill for creating quiet verses with the build up to a massive chorus. Trumpets and synthesised brass are a prominent feature of We The Generation, and used to good effect in ‘Love Ain’t Just A Word’, another big song with an almost dubstep-infused chorus contrasting the slow, reggae-inspired verses. Other ‘traditionally’ Rudimental songs include ‘Too Cool’ (ft. Ella Eyre) and the rework of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Bloodstream’ which, while not necessarily bad songs, are too repetitive and lack interest.
The monotony of We The Generation is a severe weakness of the album; across the lengthy time period of 60 minutes (an excessive 79 minutes on the deluxe version) there is simply not enough variation to command a listener’s attention fully throughout, and several songs could easily have been shelved (‘I Will For Love’ and the Kygo-sounding ‘Lay It All On Me’ are obvious choices). The best tracks are mostly contained within the first half of the album, leaving the second half often sounding aimless and deflated in comparison. Despite showing willingness to adapt and incorporate other elements into their music, Rudimental largely remain within their own borders and ultimately the more innovative parts of the album are overpowered by the bigger, booming attempts to create chart-topping crowd pleasers.
Overall, We The Generation is a very self-assured album, the huge success of Home doubtless contributing to the confidence Rudimental exude throughout their latest release. With less need to prove themselves, the songs are no longer confined solely to drum’n’bass and the four-piece have relaxed enough to experiment. The times during which Rudimental allow themselves to leave their comfort zone and venture into laid-back, atmospheric songs are the best moments on the album, but these are few and far between, with formulaic bass-heavy lines dominating the majority of the album. However, one can hope that Rudimental will continue to develop their music towards the more refined and personal sound that can be heard at brief points throughout We The Generation.