Every now and then you get a CD so immediately lovable and interesting that you wonder if the rest of the country has been listening to this on Top of the Pops while you have been tuning in to Radio 3. You would have to be very po-faced not to love Trickbaby.
Doing my research, it transpires that the very Leftfieldesque ‘Neelaa’ had been shortlisted by Radio 1 and the band have been kicking up an interest here and in India from where they have just returned from a tour. They are going to be huge, it’s that simple.
The album kicks off with its least immediately attractive song, ‘Nine Parts of Desire’ and one with very serious subject matter. Imam Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, says that nine out of ten parts of desire have something to do with women… an observation that has been blamed for much repressive behaviour within Islam. Thus the album opens on a serious note reflecting critically on life behind the veil. The trademark beats and voice that is employed so effectively throughout the album is just not there on this one, an odd choice to open the album with.
But then it gets fun, Saira Husain and Steve Ager have crafted a series of songs that are a wondrous mÈlange of Asian beats, fat bass lines and enigmatic, dreamy songs as full as hooks as a fisherman’s tackle box. Take ‘Because You Know’ for example. Saira beguiles with such a sweet voice that the lyrical line musing on how she never seems to meet anyone seems nothing less than an outrage. On the website, she makes it clear that she is NOT married, despite always being asked that, hey me neither — err where was I? Ah yes, so we have a vocal that on its own could storm the charts, now add a funky backing with great tabla beats and you have a tune you will still be listening to on the radio in a decade.
Sometimes the lyrics veer towards the hippy obscure such as “Hurrying to catch my comet / No destination shown — I wanna get on it / Taking a day trip from this magic kingdom,” on ‘Slipping Through Your Fingers’. But give it that voice, a nice bit of sitar and choice beats and you have to give in. You could argue that it is a serious reflection on reincarnation but hey it’s just too much fun.
And now, Seasonal Affective Disorder has its own torch song, ‘December Blues’. As a fellow sufferer, I am very grateful for this dreamy upbeat combination of great tabla behind a perfect fusion of Western pop with desi beats. Just what you need to lift you out of the winter and into the spring.
The thing about Trickbaby is that they have hit on a formula of instant aural gratification and its easy to assume that there can be no substance behind something as attractive but the truth is its there in the music and in the writing. They deserve to be bigger than Krisna.