Benin City - Last Night (Moshi Moshi)

Benin City – Last Night (Moshi Moshi)

A concept album chronicling ten years of nightclubbing in London condensed into one night and eleven tracks might at first sound like a niche listening endeavour for anyone but the most committed raver but on Last Night, Benin City have created a popular Faithless inspired party album that also successfully blends the deeper nightclub experience. The London three piece vocalists Joshua Idehen and Shanaz Dorsett with multi-instrumentalist Tom Leaper cast their net wide encompassing 90s garage, afro-beat and dancehall. It’s undoubtedly post-dubstep but without falling into the post-dubstep genre. More in keeping with the good time musical endeavours of Rizzle Kicks or Rudimental perhaps, under the twist-key of major label subsidiary money, but lyrical touchstones such as rhyming dancefloor with Darfur, cross-referencing going on the pull with fox hunting and gentrified door policies are to be admired.

By rights Last Night should be the sound of the summer with enough variation in a world of playlists to keep it relevant and coherent as an album in its own right. Moshi Moshi by being at times sooo London (Bloc Party, Hot Chip) have laid their cards on the table but only ‘What The Hell Are You On’, simply by the amount of local sub-genres the band try to shoe-in, conversely leaves little to the imagination and a dilution of sorts. ‘Double Or Nothing’, for example, far from being a drug metaphor turns out to be a lush Sliding Doors style first date story.

Darker, ‘This Is LDN III’ is the nearest thing to a disturbing Ghost Town allegory and it’s great, there is enough in the instrumental segments alone to unsettle while the monologue is thought provoking and equally unnerving. Not something you would want to be listening to in a deserted Tube station.

All too often though, Last Night represents the safe and shiny euphoric exterior of club culture, if it has a tattoo of a gun it is most definitely hidden under its sock. ‘Bus’ parks itself in an admittedly blissful Lagrange point between Alphabeat and Viola Beach’s Drunk rather than tackling the trials of the night bus where it may originally have been conceived. But that’s fine; this an upbeat record celebrating fun as a fair representation of the capital’s nightlife. Only ‘All Smoke, No Fire’ really attempts to get into the late night psyche of a city with plenty of social problems while ‘Long Way Home’ does go some way to addressing late bus anxieties.

While the shadier underbelly is only hinted at there is a strange utopia, an almost teenage innocence to much of Last Night that lacks that dangerous edge preferring a certain nostalgia for a time that maybe never existed or at least only through rose-tinted glasses. But this kind of wishful inertia is no bad thing. Look around, I know where I would rather be.

Last Night is released on 15th June through Moshi Moshi.

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