The Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ latest album is titled 100% Colombian (Virgin), but it sounds more like 70 percent.
The listener gets to hear two kinds of sound on 100% Colombian. The first combines hip-hop, jazz, ’70s funk, R&B and lounge styles into a great laidback sound. The opening song, “Up on the Hill,” is a perfect late night cruisin’ song with a deep bass line, wailing saxophones and lyrics delivered in a smooth, fluid baritone. The sound continues with a tribute to legend Barry White, “Love Unlimited.”
The drawback to the sound is it becomes a one-trick pony. Half the songs on the album have that laidback sound and after listening to the album a few times, all of the song start to sound alike. Still, that facet of Fun Lovin’ Criminals is the better of the two.
The other side of Fun Lovin’ Criminals, the side that wants to be a rock band, doesn’t work. After opening the album with a laidback sound, “Korean Bodega,” the cheesy rip-off of “Who Do You Love,” results in an immediate push of the skip button.
Other songs that attempt to rock, such as “Big Night Out” and “Southside,” come off sounding like white boys trying “to be fly.” The songs clash horribly with the rest of the tracks on the album. It’s as if Fun Lovin’ Criminals doesn’t want to alienate rock listeners so it threw these in as concessions.
With mixed success in its endeavor, the band attempts old-fashioned funk and soul with a couple of songs such as “Sugar” and “All For Self.” These songs are better than the group’s straight-forward rock songs because the deep bass fits the overall sound of the album. Still, the attempts at a ’70s sound come off more as cheap Curtis Mayfield imitations.