I was a little worried by the first song (past the trippy intro) “Roll Like Down,” because it had such a late-90s Matchbox 20/Smashmouth/Sugar Ray sound to it. I could do an entire review-length rant on how much I hate that kind of thing. But there’s more to Limbs than the tunes they heard in mom’s car when they were kids. They also manage to avoid the other godforsaken musical monster of the ‘90s: rap rock. MC and singer Ty James has the rap thing down, but these guys have cooked up something stranger and more interesting.
There’s plenty of synthesizer sounds burbling in the background, and some definite reggae flavor. But this is the trippier, dubbed-out deep end of Reggae, not the sort of white boy limp Bob Marley worshipping that always kills my buzz. “Never Wrong” has a loping bass line that would get Lee “Scratch” Perry’s head nodding and fat, sustained sawtooth wave chords, which break down in the hook to some distorted craziness a la Nine Inch Nails.
“Lid Flip” has some of the loose-jointed funk of Red Hot Chili Peppers, driven by a fat fuzz-guitar hook. My favorite track is the slow, grinding lurch of “Cherry” driven by muffled, grungy drums and a spiky staccato guitar line. Ty James drops the hip-hop cadence to deliver lyrics in a freer spoken word style. The longest track, “Scotoma” leaves off with sound effects and relaxes into a more contemplative mood: “someone please just tell me what’s mine if I don’t know how I feel?”
Limbs aren’t afraid to paint from a wide palette. Despite their obvious hip hop and rock roots, they mix in whatever strikes their fancy, resisting easy pigeonholing. At the same time I think they have what it takes to carry an audience along with them. They aren’t afraid of getting weird, but it’s never gratuitous. A deep groove with a side of weird? Enough is as much as a feast.
Kent Willams wants you to know a mol a bord iz nor a bord.