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Album Review: Roots Manuva - Bleeds

27 October 2015 | 9:57 am | Dylan Stewart

"A so-bass-it-will-stain-your-pants chorus refrain and an occasional piano note are the stuff that reminds you of why Roots Manuva is a name to be revered."

The veteran returns. A voice of London rap for two decades, the artist also known as Rodney Hylton Smith (no wonder he gave himself the Roots Manuva moniker) has dropped his first LP in four years. Bleeds is, for the most part, pretty much what anyone with a passing knowledge of Manuva might expect. Slow, grimy jams with his dulcet baritone dropping lyrics with precision.

There's no sign, however, that Smith is relying on his past glories. Tracks like the claustrophobic Crying are immediate in their sound, with minimal samples, muffled beats and introspective lines like "Trying to come to my senses / With a sixth sense that don't make no sense."

He opts not to fill Bleeds with guests, instead backing his proven ability and the production duties of Four Tet, Adrian Sherwood and British wunderkind Fred. This confidence proves to be well-placed on Don't Breathe Out, throughout which Barry White's Honey Please, Can't Ya See drifts in and out and lends a Bon Iver-esque quality to the track.

At 12 tracks and 41 minutes, Bleeds doesn't overstay its welcome. There are elements of light scattered throughout the primarily dark record, such as on Cargo, which sounds as though Flume is behind the production desk while Smith slinks around the recording studio on all fours. Stepping Hard, is the album highlight. Reverb on the vocal line, a so-bass-it-will-stain-your-pants chorus refrain and an occasional piano note are the stuff that reminds you of why Roots Manuva is a name to be revered.

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