Troublemakers Doubts & Convictions

The ramblings of a man on the street about what's wrong in the world today are slowly met by a gradual hypnotic humming that bleeds into a punch of soulful horns and thus begins "Street Preacher." That opening track is just a taste of what's in store within the French trio's debut effort, and at no point does the record ease up and make way for filler material. After spending nearly two years in the studio piecing together this stunning blend of jazz, funk, and soothing beats, it seems the Troublemakers decided to not settle for anything less than near perfection. They can hit you with something such as "Get Misunderstood" that's filled with an ultra-slinky groove and highlighted with a lush string sample, then come back again the very next track with a pulsating beat that underlines "Electrorloge." The album finishes as strongly as it starts with "Black City," a Herbaliser-esque cut wrapped around a Taxi Driver sample with a lazy hip-hop beat accompanied by a saloon-like piano. Whichever way they choose to approach a track, the end results are always head-nodding and undeniably beautiful. Doubts & Convictions is also nicely tied together with blends of dialogue from French films, along with artwork that is fitting for a soundtrack giving the record a movie score atmosphere - although it would be difficult to create a film worthy enough to have such sensational cuts as this to accompany its script. Doubts & Convictions is a near-flawless release that most bands would drool over to have as a third or fourth offering, let alone their debut. (Guidance)