Smith & Mighty Life Is...

It's been 15 years since Rob Smith and Ray Mighty released their revamped version of Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By." Since then, the duo has survived the global spotlight that was showered over Bristol and every peep that came from the city's trip-hop overload, which gave birth to legends such as Massive Attack and Portishead. Life Is... is surprisingly only their third full-length release and follows the blueprint that the pair drew up in past offerings, being heavily soaked with their main influences of dub and reggae. As well as being joined by third member Peter D. Rose, many guest appearances by friends show up on this recording, giving each track a distinct flavour when mainly laced with various female lyricists accompanied by a mixture of electronic bass and rhythms, as well as various brass and synthesisers. These combinations definitely take Life Is... to the clubs, with grooves that are meant to make you move. This flow sounds perfectly fine and the overall experience is rewarding, but there are not enough hints of Smith and Mighty's other loves, such as hip-hop, which shines nicely in the MC-based "1, 2 Mic Check." A decent release from the Bristol natives, but being on the scene for so many years, one might expect bigger and better things from Smith & Mighty at this stage of the game. (Studio !K7)