We’ve got the funk, everyone! Vulfpeck is in the house with its new album The Beautiful Game, which was released October 17. This album features over 10 guests and an endless set of funky jams.
Occasionally called “funk-pop,” Vulfpeck’s sound does not really fit into any one genre; rather, it brings together elements of funk, jazz, comedy, rock, pop, and even classical music. A possible reason for this great variety is the sheer number of talented people who worked on the album. Many of the guest were not only performers, but are also listed as composers.
One stand-out title is “Conscious Club.” The song is all about “hav[ing] some good times” and “danc[ing] our past away” at the Conscious Club. An enthusiastic choir, led by soulful Christian pop vocalist Mandisa, carries the song. Various voice clips saying “Welcome to the Conscious Club,” are definetly a funky addition. Upon further listening and inspection of the lyrics, I realized that the audience is being given very peculiar directions to get to this club. They are both amusing and quite baffling. This is a song with a meaning that is up to interpretation. Immediately following this exuberant song is a wordless smooth jazz piece, which serves as a pleasant change of pace. Several instrumental pieces appear throughout the album.
Although the phrase “The Beautiful Game” often refers to soccer, and indeed the cover of the album features a soccer player, the track “1 for 1, DiMaggio” follows a baseball game and the conversation of baseball fans. It’s a charming piece that captures the boyhood joy of baseball.
Vulfpeck always records their albums live with real instruments, which makes the final product all the more impressive. Not only are brass and wind instruments included in Vulfpeck’s songs, they occasionally have complex melodies. I am most impressed, though, with the bass player in this band, Joe Dart. One of Vulfpeck’s signatures is a heavy bassline, and “The Beautiful Game” is no exception. The bass is almost always moving, adding to the funk factor. I also have to give respect to Theo Katzman for his conga action.
Although this album was released only last month, it feels like something rehashed from my parent’s generation; a few of the songs give a young Michael Jackson vibe. Vulfpeck’s style is completely opposite to the popular music of today. Indeed, it bears very little similarity to any music of today, and hence it may not appeal to everyone. Still, it’s good to try new things, and giving Vulfpeck a try would be a good way to do that. Besides, it’s the perfect album for dancing you past away.