28 February 2013 (released)
03 February 2013
It’s not often that a band has more members than Slipknot twanging, keying and thrashing away but Marla Mase – the lead vocalist – has an army of loyal and musically erudite cronies behind her provocative and uncanny delivery.
Speak Deluxe is about as experimental as an album can get without performing from within a vortex. This is not to suggest that the album is uncouth; no, there is just a lot of specific elements that you have to keep on top of in order to fully enjoy this offering. Essentially, this is an eclectic mixture of musical genres that will confirm your “I don’t mind listening to a bit of everything” statements.
Reggae, funk, soul, punk, folk; this album is an all-rounder. Musically, it’s like a picking out singles from a tombola with no expectations and just listening to what you get. Not many people are into that sort of thing; many people like to know exactly what they’re getting but, personally, I’m easily bored if things aren’t kept ostensibly fresh. Speak has an uncanny way of maintaining your ear and, if one genre doesn’t suit you, I’m betting you’ll find a song on there that will.
The whole project is very easy to listen to. There are no unorganised arrangements or grating instrumental inclusions. Most of the songs are quite down tempo yet you couldn’t call this EP anything but uplifting.
I suppose what makes Speak experimental is the vocal style of the head lady more than anything. Many of her songs portray the native New Yorker as a philanthropic campaigner for many causes but predominantly the imperfections of humanity. The message is clear in songs like Queen of Imperfection and AnnaRexia which discuss exactly what they say on the tin. And Marla does it in her own unique way, often singing but occasionally not. Let me explain: Mase doesn’t have Whitney Huston-type singing abilities and it’s almost as if Mase realises this sometimes and would much rather just tell you what she needs you to know like she’s up on a soapbox. So the entire album displays a penchant for drifting from conventional song into interludes of prose.