Eclectics & Friends The Look Ahead

The Eclectics are one of those new wave of ska bands that take equal influence from every wave that came before them: the Specials, Operation Ivy and Desmond Dekker are all equally important. For their second album, they've taken a momentary diversion from their usual path to come up with a collaborative effort that emphasises some of their other influences. They've recruited four friends (hence the title...) to help out with the vocals - Dennis Buckley from 88 Fingers Louie, Frankie Delmane from Teenage Frames, Tim Kinsella from Joan Of Arc and Dustin Harris. Does it make a huge difference to have four other people helping out when it comes to the singing? Not really, but the crossover potential does increase vastly. At times, you'd almost think that the ska influences are downplayed just to make the album more accessible to a wider audience, including those people who have a pathological aversion to all things ska. That doesn't mean that The Look Ahead won't keep fans of the band happy; there is enough of their trademark horn section to drive along the majority of the songs. The biggest detour from their characteristic sound comes on a pair of cover versions, the Zombies' "Indication" gets somewhat remodelled for the band's own means while the version of the Beach Boys' "Here Today" is remarkably faithful, right down to the multi-layered harmonies. The Look Ahead is a fun little album (ten songs clocking in at 27 minutes) that will probably keep their following going until their next proper record comes along, but there's also a very good chance that some new people will get pulled into the world of the Eclectics, thanks to the band's willingness to try something slightly new. (Jump Up)