Since their revitalised formation in 2011, Troumaca have thrown some of the most important parties in Birmingham’s recent musical history, released an astounding EP (Virgin Island, Feb 2013), rejected major label interest in order to sign with Gilles Peterson’s independent Brownswood Recordings and insisted on retaining a large amount of creative control over everything they’ve touched. What’s come out the other end of it all is this, their debut record, easily one of the most exciting and unique debut records of the year.
If you’ve seen Troumaca live then you’ll know that they are something special – that was evident back in 2011. They’re talented and passionate performers crafting a sound defiant of any genre and delivering it all with an extra large helping of good old fashioned love. And it’s a love which seeps from these tracks in abundance.
The Grace (a name paying tribute to guitarist Geoff’s grandmother) is what Troumaca had always promised to deliver. It’s 45 minutes of genre-defying tropicalia crossed with dub and finished off with a helping of R’n’B. Beginning with the introductory crescendo of Trees, there are songs on here which avid fans will be familiar with (Sanctify, Layou, Ivory) and there are songs which provide exciting additions. Intersected with soundbites including instructions from Grace on how to prepare (the fruit of St. Vincent, where the family is from) breadfruit, stand out tracks include Gold, Women and Wine, Kingdom, and euphoric album closer and title track, The Grace.
There are very few faults on this record. Sure enough, it’s relatively devoid of catchy sing-a-long choruses but that was never really what Troumaca were about – they moved away from that (and mainstream acceptance) along with the rejection of their anthemic Fire about a year ago. This record is the perfect fusion of origins and circumstance and it’s laced from start to finish with love. There are clear nods to influential musical genres along the way, but it’s a creation of their own, a sound that is unarguably, their own. Troumaca were here before the explosion of the current Birmingham music scene – keeping their distance, they facilitated and helped along its ascent but judging by the debut records of its three main players, it’s Troumaca who ultimately have the potential to outlive it all. A completely beautiful debut offering.
Troumaca launch their album with a sell-out show at the Bull’s Head in Moseley tonight, August 23.