Above: Artwork for the new Album
Bonar Bradberry and Tom Thorpe have spent the last ten years building a solid reputation in dance music. Together, as PBR Streetgang, they have released on revered record labels such as Future Boogie, Hot Creations, Toy Tonics, 2020 Vision and many more. Whilst many of these releases are quite different from one another they all contain a common theme – all these tracks are impressively groovy, fun and easy to dance to. Whether it be through disco samples, rolling basslines or dark techy noises, PBR Streetgang have always produced tunes made with the purpose of keeping the dancefloor moving. This year, the duo brought out their debut album ‘Late Night Party Line’ on Skint Records. The name hinted that the album would echo a similar theme to their previous releases but instead, the duo used this as an album to experiment with new ideas.
The album begins with the sound of birds tweeting and crows squawking giving their first song ‘Human Being’ an interesting opening. This is followed by the warm piano chords and the pleasant vocals of Lily Juniper and some quiet rattling drum sequences. This track aims for a soft emotional feel but when listening I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed. Whilst not unpleasant to listen to, the song felt unadorned, lacking the real emotion that I felt like it was trying to convey. The second track ‘I Left My Heart’ is a chilled out, synth heavy, house track that builds to help bridge the transition between ‘Human Being’ and some of the more energetic tracks later on the album.
The album’s third track, ‘Transfunction’ opens with a sharper electronic percussion pattern and develops into a hard-hitting, analogue heavy house track. By this point the album has finally found its feet and PBR Streetgang are demonstrating what they’re good at. This is nicely followed up by ‘Everything Changes’ featuring vocals from Mattie Safer. It is one of the grooviest tracks on the album and Safer’s vocals work really well with the fuzzy bass synths, acoustic drum patterns and cowbells.
'Special FLX’ marks a nice mid-point in the album. The analogue synths and reverberating vocal samples work really well, despite the lead proving to be somewhat less effective. ‘Montu’ which features Ron Basejam, boasts a fantastic piano solo that marks another high point on the album and is definitely one of the stronger songs on the album. ‘Money, Casino, Brass’ marks quite an energetic spacey track which sees the return of fuzzy basslines heard in ‘Transfunction’ and ‘Everything Changes’. It has a great nostalgic feel about it although I have to say I was disappointed that there were no brass samples in this track. ‘Pork Chop Express’ was one of my favourite tracks on the album. It captured the classic PBR Streetgang groove that I remember from their earlier releases with a deep, clean bass line. The tech house track rolls along energetically in a train-like manner, making the sample of the train horn all the more fun and appropriate.
Above: PBR's recent Boiler Room performance in London.
It’s clear from listening to the album that the guys wanted to use this album as an opportunity to experiment with different ideas. This pays off in some areas but in others can have rather underwhelming results. I appreciate PBR Streetgang’s ambitious attitude towards their debut album and the 80's influence is fantastic. However, PBR Streetgang make great dance tracks, and some of their lower energy stuff adds a new element to their sound. When I first began listening to the album I wasn’t hopeful but found myself quite impressed with most of the tracks that featured late in the album.