With 'ACR Loco,' A Certain Ratio Go from Trailblazers to Followers

With 'ACR Loco,' A Certain Ratio Go from Trailblazers to Followers
When acts stick around for so long they're inspired by the artists who once looked to them, their output often becomes cautious. ACR Loco is an interesting example of this, as it's basically the musical equivalent of a reserved but somewhat cool uncle telling you stories about his scenester past. It's exactly what to expect from the first A Certain Ratio record in twelve years, as the band have continued to make interesting choices stylistically. However, a lingering dryness remains.

At its best, the record holds onto A Certain Ratio's signature percussive ornamentation. The addition of cowbells, whistles and xylophone keeps the songs moving akin to a slow-burning dance track. This has the effect of making the songs feel longer than they actually are. This isn't always a bad thing, as it allows the more electronic elements to stand out without becoming overbearing.

That said, not all of the ornamentation on the album works to its benefit. Though the vocals have their moments — especially on tracks like "Friends Around Us," where Jez Kerr's vocals have a soothing yet tinny phaser effect — the vocoder bits on "Supafreak" and "Bouncy Bouncy" teeter on being too much. It's in this way that ACR Loco sounds like a late Franz Ferdinand effort.

Because it's pretty pared back, all of its elements are able to shine through, for better or for worse. There's nothing super memorable about this record, nor is there anything horribly offensive about it either. Ultimately, ACR Loco doesn't match A Certain Ratio's past glories, but it doesn't erase their legacy either. (Mute)