Five years on from their sparkling debut, Ireland’s Burning Effigies return with a follow-up. Even taking in to account that it was an independently-released record, ‘Pipe Dream’ was a brilliant album and one which deserved far more attention than it got. Its jazz/soul/funk/pop hybrid may have seemed a little out of step with modern concerns but the songwriting rivalled Steely Dan for variety, complexity and sheer listenability. For ‘Stuck In Limbo’, the main change to the line-up is Nigerian-born Olu Adeniran, which leads to the group taking on board more African influences.
‘Freak’ is a reassuring return to the funk/soul form which The Burning Effigies mastered on their first album. Better still is ‘Try To Get Together’ where the soul sound is embellished with meaty percussion, the kind of indie guitar licks you’d expect on an Orange Juice album and fine vocal contributions cropping up from speaker to speaker. Of a similar ilk are ‘Neighbour’ and ‘I Wish I Was You’ where their easy ear for a tune is reminiscent of both Steely Dan and Motown, whlst the Tahiti 80-esque ‘Life Of The Party’ is another addictive track.
Yet ‘Stuck In Limbo’ is a step up in ambition too. ‘Best Of Me’ is the first time new recruit Olu Adeniran takes lead vocals and he adds another layer of charisma to an already very charismatic band. For the title track and ‘Yemoja’, they indulge their world influences on jazz-funk workouts; these performances are possibly best experienced on the live circuit but on record, I must admit, I wanted them to return to the more melodic side of the band. Then again, the noirish ‘Nadia’ is worthy of a 1960’s crime thriller soundtrack and demonstrates the benefit of the new directions.
Once again the production is very crisp and the musicianship is supremely tight. So even if ‘Stuck In Limbo’ lacks the overall consistency of its predecessor, it also takes more risks, which is definitely one of the true qualities of all great bands.
Steely Dan, Orange Juice, Tahiti 80