There’s a reason I struggle to get into grime et al, and I know I’m the top dog of sweeping generalisations when I say this but it all just feels a bit shallow. For me there is nothing relatable about gang tiffs, stacks of bills and a burning desire to be a Hugh Hefner-type. And from the mainstream circuit this is pretty much all I’ve picked up on.
I’m no expert in the realms of trap, rap and hardcore either. But I think that’s probably a good thing. So with little emotional investment in the genres, I can objectively say that T8PES is on to a winner for both novices (like me) and your more well-established grimeheads – with this debut album feeling exciting for a sound that I thought was one swift kick away from the bucket.
Walking the tightrope between love and hate treacherously close at times, T8PES has crafted something that perhaps shouldn’t work, but just does. Acid house and grime don’t exactly go hand in hand at first inspection, but the combination leaves me questioning why the hell I hadn’t heard this kind of thing before.
In actuality, I guess I have. But it’s the nostalgia and familiarity of this eponymous album that earns it the title of ‘a good listen.’ Fans of The Avalanches gather round and bring your 12” of the Mondays’ ‘Hallelujah’ whilst you’re at it, T8PES is mixed with enough pre-millennium dance hits to keep you going all night… even without those eccies.
But it’s not just the familiar nineties sound in tracks like ‘How Much Do You Want It’ and ‘Gotta Believe’ that gives this album the wistfulness of a time gone by, it’s the discussion of the trials and tribulations of teen-hood too. A mature reflection on growing up, T8PES has written a record that’ll strike a chord with most – tackling difficult themes of drug use, alcoholism and the effects of bad influences, featured on an album that feels like a coming-of-age tale.
I think it’s important to note that this may be one of the most well-produced debut albums I’ve heard in a long time too. Home cooked electronica and remixing have been polluting the scene for a while, making it a bit too easy to publish rubbish and a hell of a lot harder to find the gems. And I’m not saying that a Soundcloud system lockdown needs to be put in place to stop the sick bucket of low-quality artists from (God forbid) overflowing, it is pretty indisputable that the cornucopia of self publishing platforms have made it more difficult to identify the best of the best.
I can’t really whinge on about that for too long because the cream supposedly always rises to the top, and T8PES has sailed right up onto my radar with this debut album. But what it truly boils down to is a radio-friendly combination of EDM and rap that manages to keep a hold of the substance so many others lose in the process – with stand out production, and some solid variation in sound that leaves something for everyone here.
Not to blow anyone’s trumpet or anything – but I think we’ve just hit the grime jackpot.
‘Hope & Pray’ – T8PES featuring Holly Fitzgerald
T8PES is out on general release from Friday 24th May. For more on T8PES, including links to online sales, visit www.t8pes.com
If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website.