Stereo MC’s career in America can be summarized in one sentence: in 1992, they released “Connected.” “Connected” was an international hit reaching number 20 in the US and number 18 in the UK but like other 90s dance groups, success was fleeting. While the group scored seven additional charting songs in the UK, “Connected” and its follow up, the little remembered “Step It Up” were the only US charting tracks. The group continued to release albums throughout the 2000s, the last being 2008’s Double Bubble. Their latest album is Emperor’s Nightingale.
If you have not listened to “Connected” since the 90s, let me remind you a little bit about the song. It mixed an alternative hip hop vibe with acid jazz characteristics to create something that was both danceable and had a little street cred. Unfortunately, “Connected” has not aged well. Its beat is a dated form of hip hop that is no longer relevant nor cool. Luckily that is not what Emperor’s Nightingale sounds like at all.
The album shows a band that has truly evolved as the music around them has. “Manner” starts off with a dance beat that is on the brink of seeming passe but as the song progresses the band mixes in elements of dubstep. The dubstep influence makes the band sound a little like they are pandering to a younger crowd but it works in the context of the song.
That is not to say that they have completely abandoned their early 90s roots. “Tales” features the type of eurobeat and techno synth line that would have made Aqua jealous. But if you overlook the slightly passe beat, the song is really well written with a solid, catchy hook.
As a matter of fact, most of the album delivers well written songs. Considering Stereo MC’s have not been considered hit makers in two decades, their songs display serious hit qualities. Although the album seems to be destined to be a hit in the UK and not in the US, it is the US’ fault because Emperor’s Nightingale might be one of the best new dance releases Americans aren’t listening to.
Stereo MC’s “Tales”