Recorded at their own studio in Wellington, New Zealand, and self-released on The Drop, the label they own and operate, BAYS is the fourth studio album by internationally acclaimed, yet intrinsically Kiwi, Fat Freddy’s Drop. BAYS is the 7-piece’s follow up album to 2013’s Blackbird.
Having previously lived in Wellington for ten years, Fat Freddy’s Drop have managed to become, albeit subliminally, something of a soundtrack to a significant proportion of my life. Hearing this album instantly transports me back to the south coast of Wellington, the notorious wind blowing my hair into a horizontal position, with the endless blue of Cook Strait stretching across to the shores of the majestic South Island in the distance.
There’s a relaxed sophistication about this album. It’s distinctly them, with their astonishing fusion of groove, funk, soul, electro, reggae, jazz, R&B – you name it – and you can’t help but admire the masterful, effortless way they transition between and across genres. There are infinite layers, beautifully balanced, and seamlessly blended. It’s also a contradiction – simultaneously lulling you into closing your eyes for some chill out time, all the while keeping your feet tapping to the various grooves. I confess there was even a bit of chair dancing at times.
Although loathe to single out any one of the group, as this is a superb collaboration of artists, I think Dallas Tamaira’s voice should be listed as a National Treasure by the New Zealand Government at the earliest opportunity. Equal parts mellow, soothing, and hypnotic, his vocals are a joy to the ears.
The tunes are immersive and refined, and are as much at home in the venues of Europe as they are in the beachside cafe in Wellington. This is a perfect album for lazy summer days with friends, or a road trip with the windows down.
Stand out tracks include the opener Wairunga Blues, Fish in the Sea, and my favourite, Razor.
Bays is available for purchase now.