Air Dubai – ‘Be Calm’: the easy listening unearthed gem

I RECALL listening to a deathcore compilation when to my surprise I first stumbled across the Hip-Hop group Air Dubai. The group’s soul infused Hip–Hop style delighted me. Anyone who has listened to a deathcore album will realise soon after that I was in dire need of a delight. When I investigated their credentials the band had just signed with semi-major label ‘Hopless Records’ – affiliated with the likes of Enter Shikari (of whom we interviewed earlier this year), and All Time Low. After that, other than the odd tour, Air Dubai had disappeared. However, this summer from the depths of the internet I discovered that the group were releasing a follow up to their début. I was more excited than every eighteen year old girl was at the news of McBusted.

So, was my excitement just? Well, yeah-kind of. The album is called ‘Be Calm’ (look at the title of the review if you don’t believe me) and it is air-dubai-afterglow-be-calm-2014calm indeed.  This isn’t a problem by any stretch of the imagination. The issue is vocal balance. The band has two vocalists, one has a sensational soulful tone, the other raps with considerable potency. At times there can be too much of a good thing though. For instance, a soulful introduction will be broken up by a rap verse which feels a little unnecessary. Equally, quick fire rap verses about the joys of the single life doesn’t always need to be stunted by a soothing melody. That’s the bad news, however, there is some tremendous good news; so don’t worry.

This album is still some of the best easy listening you’ll find around. There are vocal and synth based hooks for days and a relaxed attitude that puts a charming smile on your face; or at least you’ll think it’s charming. Musically the group is on point. The album is the work of a full band and it reveals this repeatedly and consistently. Each track has just the right amount of instrumentation; whether that’s slow guitar chords, splashy drums or jumpy synth. The bass isn’t really audible, but a solid bass guitar has been absent for many millennia. The album really comes into its own after the track ‘Hit The Dark’. If you make it to ‘Hit The Dark’, it’s smooth sailing for the rest of the album, I guarantee you’re definitely locked in. In fact I’d argue the album gets stronger until its finish. This certainly gives the album replay value. Furthermore, the album ends on such high notes, which leaves you thoroughly satisfied.

The song I heard two years ago – ‘Soul & Body’ – on the deathcore compilation features in the final third of the album; this made me a happy, nostalgic listener. I would recommend this track to anyone interested in the group. ‘Soul & Body’ showcases the musical, rap and vocal talents which the band utilise throughout the record. Despite being initially jaunting, well placed musicianship and fantastic vocals can be found in this album. The record is well worth a listen especially if it’s just for fun.