Kobo Town Jumbie in the Jukebox

Kobo Town Jumbie in the Jukebox
6
The sophomore album from Kobo Town finds Toronto, ON's unique neo-calypso/funk/reggae raconteurs expanding their sound and scope. However, the results are mixed. Here, Kobo Town work with Ivan Duran, a producer who burst to international renown for his work in shaping the music of the Garifuna people of Belize into a compelling and popular series of records and tours. The pairing makes sense: Kobo Town's loose, relaxed grooves have a similar lope to most of the records Duran has made. Somehow though, this collaboration feels overdone. The beats are often unnaturally processed, which isn't categorically a bad thing, but they're at odds with singer Drew Gonsalves's nuanced phrasing and laid-back delivery. Kobo Town shine as storytellers, and on this level, Jumbie in the Jukebox succeeds with wry, stinging tales of "Postcard Poverty" and "The War Between the Is and the Ought." But often Gonsalves's voice is mixed too far back to appreciate the wordplay. Things improve after several listens, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the production is simply a bit too much. Most likely these songs will sound great live, free from the overcompression and processing of their studio versions. (Cumbancha)