ALBUM: The Selecter ‘Subculture’


Pioneers of the 2tone movement of the ’80s, The Selecter have been voicing the need for equality of all kinds through the perfect medium of their anthemic, uplifting Ska tracks for thirty five years; and now – with a brand new album – they’ve proved that they’re still able to exude as much social relevance, vibrancy and empowering spirit as ever before.

Although arriving three decades after The Selecter’s debut release, Subculture addresses many of the issues that shaped the 2tone movement, reminding us that – however far society may have appeared to have moved forwards – there is still an urgent need for upheaval. Addressing subjects from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (‘Babble On’) to failed romance (‘It Never Worked Out’), Subculture is yet another incredible arson of fantastically uplifting, and undeniably necessary, songs. From the opening ‘Box Fresh’ – an inherently upbeat and wonderfully catchy song – to the final, empowering, track, ‘Still I Rise’, this album is a vibrant and essential addition to any Summer playlist.

Whether discussing pressing, and unnerving, issues such as the criminalisation of black people in ‘Breakdown’ – a testimonial of shattered lives, as names of those who have been killed over the years are listed – or delivering a fantastic, ska-infused rendition of Patti Smith’s ‘Because The Night’, Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson exude an unmatched passion and glowing spirit throughout Subculture’s entirety. Take ‘Hit The Ground Running’, for example – a perfect party anthem, oozing all the uptempo ska beats you could hope for, whilst discussing the all-too-relevant issues of zero hours contracts and bedroom tax.

This is the beauty of The Selecter; as each track hits you with its unique vibrancy and uplifting soul, a poignant message is conveyed. Whether singing about music, love, social injustices or cultural history, the ethos of the magnificent Pauline Black and co. remains explicitly consistent. Emanating contagious, positive vibes and intense frustration at the state of society in equal measure, the incredible energy, passion and relevance that radiates from The Selecter is as immensely enjoyable, and vitally important, as it was thirty five years ago.

So, let the uplifting, buoyant ska beats and Black’s wonderfully smooth, soulful vocals take hold, and immerse yourself in the inspired exuberance of what is sure to be one of the most important albums of the year.


Mixed by the legendary Prince Fatty, and produced by Neil Pyzer, Subculture is out 15 June


Mari Lane

Mari Lane

Editor, London. Likes: Kathleen Hanna, 6Music, live music in the sunshine. Dislikes: Sexism, pineapples, the misuse of apostrophes.