Desperation State by Yes Sir Boss (Album)
Is it time to start wearing purple? Yes Sir Boss! take Gogol Bordello’s gypsy-folk influences and make them their own
his reviewer had the good fortune to be covering the Boomtown festival for Songwriting this year, whose headline act was the legendary Jimmy Cliff. Last year I was there too, and the headliners that year were gypsy-folk band Gogol Bordello. Now, I can’t say for certain that Bristol’s Yes Sir Boss were there, but the rest of Bristol seemingly were, so why not? And if they were, they would no doubt have been feverishly taking notes while Gogol Bordello performed, because their influence can be heard ringing through the music of Yes Sir Boss.
This is never more apparent than on album opener Desperation State, which crackles with the same energy that drives one of Gogol Bordello’s finest songs, Start Wearing Purple. But to begin and end our assessment of Yes Sir Boss’s musical direction at this moment would be both foolish and incorrect; they’re much more than just their inspirations.
This becomes clear when the brilliantly interwoven guitars and horns of track 2, The Situation, lead seamlessly into the third track Not Guilty. It melds together calypso and ska influences, bouncing in a manner that suggests it’s grown a head of its own, solely for the purpose of nodding along to its own seedy exuberance. Other excellent songs include the energetic Never Know, the gentle, proggy My My and the ebullient Na Na Ooh.
It’s not all bounce and exuberant squalor though, with the band displaying their social consciousness in politically driven lyrics which consider, among other issues, Middle Eastern tensions and filthy political vapidity. This is exemplified by lines such as: “You’re still fighting war in the name of peace/And killing in the name of religious belief/I hope you think you’re proud of it (from Not Guilty)
It’s this combination – of music that draws you seductively in, and lyrics that make socio-political stress balls of your mind – that make Yes Sir Boss such an interesting proposition. In a time where ska and gypsy-folk are both en vogue, could they engender a more widespread social consciousness? Probably not. But if the foundations of society’s existing edifices were to fall, it would certainly sound a lot more engaging with Yes Sir Boss providing the soundtrack.
Verdict: Politically-tinged gypsy-folk with ska and reggae undertones