Kings and Queens is the 10th release from John Brown’s Body, an American reggae outfit hailing from Boston and Ithaca, NY. Where they have stayed true to their roots on previous releases, JBB incorporates many electronic embellishments and elements on Kings and Queens, giving the album as a whole a modern, American touch. It works for them, producing a technically brilliant collection that has enough reggae to satisfy the die-hard roots audience and this newer twist to enchant a different following at the same time.
Kings and Queens is a headphone experience. There’s plenty of space-dub exploration, lots of echo-driven horn lines, and more technical prowess than one knows what to do with. Therein lies the problem: In the quest to modernize roots reggae, John Brown’s Body left behind one ingredient that keeps the originators’ bodies of music timeless and forever in print. Don’t get me wrong. These guys have it, and their previous releases prove it, but Kings and Queens suffers from a lack of soul.