It’s difficult for bands like The Selecter: on one hand they’re playing to an aging fanbase of 2-Tone fans who just want to hear what they know. We saw Selecter at Capesthorne’s Rewind on Saturday, playing to an audience looking to relive the 1980s and hear all the old tunes.
On the other: they’ve still got something to say, they’re angry, relevant and bitter about prejudice and discrimination. And they can still write good tunes.
Openers Box Fresh and It Never Worked Out are poppy tracks that ease people into the album.
Open Goal is where the album gets going: a harder ska sound as it compares a failing (abusive we think) relationship to football; the woman is looking for love but her fella treats her like an open goal.
Breakdown is where the album starts to justify its existence, a powerful song about life for black people living in poverty. It takes the sound of the Specials’ Ghost Town and applies it to modern life, where black people are routinely murdered. Singer Gaps recites the names of those killed over the years, from Stephen Lawrence and Letitia Shakespeare to Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Another strong song is Karma, a good reggae tune with a meaty chorus. It repeats the “what goes around comes around” misunderstanding of karma, but it’s the going around that’s the subject: kids brought up badly will repeat the lesson.
Elsewhere, there’s a cover of Because The Night that takes some time to grow (we really like Peter Tosh’s Johnny B Goode so we persevered) but there’s a good keyboard solo and it is probably a live favourite.
All in all, an album that outlines the problems people face but with optimism: we can all do better. Good tunes, too. Well worth a listen: don’t just dismiss them as a band just doing legacy 80s tours to top up the pension plan.