[ALBUM REVIEW] The Bamboos – Night Time People


Lit Up
Golden Ticket
Salvage Rites
Pony Up
Night Time People
War Story
You Should’ve Been Mine
San Junipero
Broken (feat. J-Live)

Bonus tracks
Broken (feat. Urthboy)
Broken (feat. Teesy)

Reviewed by Renee Morrison

After 18 years one might expect a band to perhaps lose its touch or fall into a rut. Night Time People, The Bamboos’ eighth studio album, not only avoids such a pitfall but showcases the raw talent of all nine members of this Melbourne-based funk soul powerhouse further establishing them as being as indispensable as ever.   Despite the album’s name, if you listen, as I did several times, in the morning, your day will seem much easier. Night Time People makes you feel like you can take on the world …with one hand behind your back. Perhaps that is because The Bamboos appear to be doing just that. Earlier this year they supported UK legend Robbie Williams in his sold out “Heavy Entertainment” shows across Australia, no doubt capturing the heart and soul of hundreds of thousands of new fans. The Bamboos’ frontman, all-time mastermind, and I suspect workaholic, Lance Ferguson, released not one but two albums in the twelve months preceding this release, one for a side-project, Menagerie, and another, the first to be released under his own name. Though Night Time People will please even the most discerning of true soul fans, catchy, sometimes cheeky and always on-point lyrics, make the album distinctly current. Several songs have the strength to stand alone and everyone from hip-hop hoods to jazz aficionados, disco divas to Motown mummas will be pressing rewind.  Night Time People is a part-time party, full-time soul.

The opening track, Lit Up, the first to be released, grabs your attention immediately and does not let go. Melbourne’s Kylie Auldist, a long-time Bambooer, reminds us of her formidable power and the song aptly prepares listeners for the good time (night time?) they’re in for. The playful piano mid-way through lightens the mood in an otherwise full sounding track. Stranded is one for the ladies, or perhaps a skating rink of old. Can’t help but think Phil Collins may have influenced this track, in the best way possible. Motown classic Golden Ticket follows and is pure sunshine; with an Avalanchesque opening.  I recommend jumping in your car, winding down the windows and letting The Bamboos navigate. It is here that the act’s full nine members can first be heard in all their glory.  I love the catchy disco guitar riff in Salvage Rights which accompany Auldist’s potent vocals.

Pony Up is a definite favourite of mine from the album and one sure to get you moving. In some ways, I am surprised they didn’t release this track first.  It is equal parts hilarious and unpredictable and in places, unmistakably showcases Ferguson’s unwavering dedication to the late genius that is Prince. I suspect The Bamboos have as much fun playing this song as you will have to listen to it. If you’re trying to convince yourself to stay in tonight DO NOT, I repeat do not, play it. If you’re in need of a little Dutch courage, on the other hand, press play and turn this one up! The enviable horns section only add to the fun here.

Don’t leave the dancefloor yet though. The title track Night Time People gets your heart racing all the more and will indeed “lead you astray”. Any apprehension on Auldist’s behalf re her vocals on this one, which see her uncharacteristically spitting lyrics in an 80’s style rap, are unfounded.  She nails it, naturally, and gets to show off the lower talents of her vocal range. The refrain is possibly the best constructed on the album. What can I say? “Get ready to play”.   Backfired takes you straight to New Orleans with a possible detour to the windy city.  More Blues than Soul here but another highlight. The track comes together seamlessly yet listeners are treated to several solos serving to highlight just how necessary each of the nine members truly is. The horns, suitably, get the last word here.  War Story and You should’ve been mine are both accessible tunes. The latter has a slower pace and you will find yourself reminiscing despite your best intentions.  If this one doesn’t end up in a movie montage I will be very surprised.  The song inspires and serves to perfectly ‘complete’ Auldist’s flawless contribution to Night Time People. The vocal juggernaut features more on this album than any to come before; The Bamboos frequently collaborating with guest vocalists.  By the end of You should’ve been mine, it feels like Auldist has come full circle and takes a bow readying us for the instrumental San Junipero.  This is such a pleasure to listen to it took me half the song to realise there were, indeed, no lyrics. San Junipero takes control of your senses in an unpredictable yet paralyzing way.  It feels like one of those songs that were just meant to be and if you find your toes aren’t tappin immediately, I recommend checking your pulse. An achievement for sure and lots of fun.

Continuing to push the boundaries of what exactly an album is, Night Time People, ends with three versions of Broken, The Bamboos’ lifeline to anyone suffering in silence. The first version, featuring J-Live, is my favourite and though an agonizing choice, I’m sure, I can see why this one has been included on the album properly; the other two labeled bonus tracks. J-Live, an American rapper, keeps high company, having worked with the likes of Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Prince Paul. There’s a Gangsters’ Paradise feel about this one with an imminently more positive message and Auldist and J-Live’s vocals complement each other extremely well.  Be sure to check out the animated comic-strip music video too.  Next is the version with renowned Aussie MC, Urthboy. The unique voice of this ex-Herd member is unmistakable and this is possibly his best work since early albums like The Signal.  I would like to see a further collaboration here. It works. The third version and the last to be released features Teesy, a German singer-songwriter from Germany. His flow is possibly the fastest, yet RnB-like overtones added by the vocalist may, again, attract new listeners to The Bamboos, both in terms of genre and geography.  This brave choice to include all three versions lets audiences decide how they want to end the ride that is Night Time People

It may prove hard for The Bamboos to take their own advice though, to “learn from [their] mistakes”. On this album, they make very few of them. Though I haven’t been with The Bamboos from the beginning, I fear there’s no escaping for me now and I will follow them for a long time coming. They are touring Australia in August. I’ve got my Golden Ticket. Have you got yours?