London five piece get political on addictive, percussion driven debut.
London five piece Formation have been a band on the lips of many people for some time now with their iconic blend of funk, electronic and punk. Led by brothers Will and Matt Ritson, the band have managed to conjure a sound similar to that of LCD Soundsystem and Jungle but yet retaining a sense of primal uniqueness. Debut album All The Powerful People, sees the band channeling their anger into ten wonderfully crafted hives of energy.
The shuffling samba styled beat in Pleasure shows everyone what the band are about. The track sounds like a continuation of the band’s earlier tracks which have an additive undertone flowing through them. Whilst upbeat throughout, the track touches on humanity’s inability to learn from mistakes. It’s a theme seen throughout many of the album tracks for example on Powerful People, in which huge electronic synths drive the song to a new dimension whilst lyrics tell of class divide, dependence, desperation and need to belong. Blood Red Hand sees the band stripping back completely in a wonderfully atmospheric track with touches on loss and regret.
The group is impressive in their ability to create addictive, funk driven tracks with slinking vocals but there are moments on the album in which the band show a different side to them. On The Board sees a more commanding vocal performance embedded upon a smooth and sexy rhythm. Buy and Sell is a direct attack on consumerism and greed with lines like “Buy and sell / And go to hell”. It’s a straightforward rock approach which is dominated by its Red Hot Chilli Peppers styled bass and instead of trying to interweave a variety of layers, the band take a more direct stab towards the issue at hand. Politics isn’t something that the band are afraid to get involved with and this can be seen in their sound, with elements of punk clearly visible in their production and vocals. Lyrically, they aren’t afraid to challenge current issues, for example on Drugs which tackles society’s over-reliance on narcotics.
However, the band are at their best when they cut loose from everything, focusing themselves on their intricate electronic layers and a percussion section which could challenge the best of artists. Back Then sees cataclysmic saxophone upon an Arcade Fire styled track, with sprawling vocals allowing the singer to be completely free whilst standout track A Friend talks of friendships and troubled relationships amongst a sea of euphoric synths which build to a stunning ending.
For Formation, the ability to consistently add a variety of layers to their tracks is astonishing and it’s this ability that has allowed them to create a brilliant selection of euphoric dance punk music. The percussion dominated album is a message of strength and defiance from the band and a call for everyone to stand up and take notice of what’s going on.