The cover of the Roots’ latest offering sums up its content, a collage of songs with just a pinch of aggression. Following on from their collaboration with Elvis Costello – 2013’s Wise Up Ghost – the band, who carried on as Jimmy Fallon’s house band when he moved over to The Tonight Show, seem to have carried over Costello’s edgy pallet of sombre-laced hookery.
They somehow simultaneously reference 16th century polyphony with 50s doowop in the first interlude ‘The Devil’. This is a childhood influence of Questlove’s from his father, Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews and the Hearts fame, from where he commenced his musical career as a teenager, joining him on the touring circuit.
Following in a similar vein to the seminal Things Fall Apart and their most recent, non-collaborative, effort Undun, …and then you shoot your cousin is another concept record but a much more effective one. ‘When the People Cheer’ is undoubtedly the album’s highlight, while the previous two tracks exhibit the full out groove that Questlove and co have become synonymous with, especially on their 2010 John Legend collaboration. Cousin is a refined and mature record from a maturing band, a grower not a show-er.