PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Swindle Seeks Common Bonds That Connect People on 'No More Normal'

Swindle and his carefully curated mix of guests craft a joyous fusion of sound instilled with pertinent life lessons on No More Normal.

No More Normal

Brownswood Recordings

25 January 2019

The old saying "coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success" would serve as an appropriate axiom for the new album from London-based producer, Swindle. His second album, No More Normal is an album about joining together. About finding the common bonds and the shared experiences that connect people, and uncovering the shared musical affinities that can be fostered to create powerful and lasting music.

Swindle has always been an artist that can find the connective tissues between genres, but here he also twists the connective fibers between people to create something strong and enduring. Taking hip-hop, jazz, grime, soul, and R&B he adeptly brings in a myriad of special guests who help him to suture together the common musical threads within disparate genres to create something genuinely unique.

"What We Do" opens the album with a powerful, spoken word proclamation from Rider Shafique about the importance of music as escape ("I can relate to your struggle / I overstand the hustle / But it's the music that moves"). Over graceful, cinematic strings it could be the ending to an audiobook, until the beat drops and P Money picks up the baton and runs with it to produce a characteristically fluid rap with D Double E and Daley pitching in. Featuring whirring, mechanical samples, "Get Paid" brings in some rolling R&B bass with jazz trumpet on a track that is over far too soon.

"Drill Work" shows off all of Swindle's production skills as he layers synths, strings, and brass and watches them tumble into the darkness. It's a thrilling mix of old school grime but given a filmic twist as cinematic horns and strings fashion a real sense of drama. Special guest Ghetts drops powerful truth bombs about the pervading threat of violence that often stalks the streets where he grew up in East London. "Run Up" weaves in slinky R&B guitar around gliding strings and a thudding beat before making making room for a elongated jazz sax solo.

On "Coming Home" Swindle calls on the talents of fellow London-born poet and rapper Kojey Radical. Opening with blasts of brass from Manchester's Riot Jazz brass band the song soon locks into a swaggering groove with Radical's tongue in cheek, ebullient vocals wrapped around a seriously smooth, liquid bassline. Throughout the song Radical switches between a deep flow and Anderson.Paak-esque soulful vocals, showing in four minutes why he's one of the most consistently compelling MCs around. As the song drifts into its jazzy final section replete with gliding guitar figure and spoken word outro, Radical impresses the importance of not getting caught up with what's not important ("I cant keep chasing a moment that's already gone"), all while remembering where you're from.

"Reach the Stars" is a soothing R&B song with British-Ghanaian singer Andrew Ashong's ultra smooth soulful voice adding a bit of love to the mix. Swindle takes the song to somewhere ultra-funky with squelching bass and a superb keyboard solo that sounds like it could untether itself at any moment and float off into the ether. On "Knowledge" Eva Lazarus evokes the spirit of early Neneh Cherry in her pointed delivery before Kiko Burn adds one of the catchiest choruses on the album.

On "California" Swindle adds a little sunny P-funk as Etta Bond wistfully details the reasons why she would like to move to California. It also sees Kojey Radical return to drop a few lines before leaving the door open for a stunning Latin American trumpet solo.

Eva Lazarus returns on "Talk a Lot" this time in late night soul singer mode over popping, funk bass, and plinking strings. It ends with a simply stunning jazz guitar solo. Closer, "Grateful", ends the album on an emotional note as Radical and the returning Rider Shafique illustrate their gratitude for what they've achieved and recognize the role of others in their success. It's a poignant moment as Shafique concludes with "Hopefully this message inspires future generations to write their own futures / Cause there's no more normal."

Swindle and his carefully curated mix of guests manage to craft a joyous fusion of sound instilled with pertinent life lessons on No More Normal. It's a celebration of the connections that make our lives richer but also one that shows a unique musical talent at the very top of his game.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.