There are so many strings to the bow of Benjamin Drew; aka Plan B, whether it be singing, acting or producing this is a man with a lot on his plate at all times. Eight years on from the Defamation of Strickland Banks record that propelled him into the limelight, he’s back with a record that potentially moves too far away from the rap roots that helped him make his name.
Having fallen in love with Plan B at his most politically charged Ill Manors era, I’m a little disappointed to discover that fire has faded into radio-friendly Sam Smith-esque tracks. Although that said, opener Grateful could be read as a more subtle political anthem against government cuts and corporate greed – but even that’s a bit of a reach.
Sadly, even on a track on such a controversial subject so close to the heart of the British public as Queue Jumping, the fire is still not even near being ignited. Yes, Plan B is an exceptional soul singer, but it’s frustrating to hear such a force become so placid and tame. I think when anyone is drawing inspiration from jumping in line at the cheese counter, perhaps it’s time to read a newspaper and get angry again.
There are tracks with war in the title; such as It’s A War, that time was I would be excited to hear from an artist like Plan B – but damn it’s disappointing to not hear scathing lines against the government and instead hear a soft reggae infused song with no actual real life takes. The only glimmer of hope is Guess Again, which has brief moments of actual brilliance – throwing it back to Plan B’s early days and my goodness does the soul work well against the coarse grain of industrially inspired robotic swoops.
When a once on the pulse artist decides to focus on the more radio-friendly parts of their vocal range – we all suffer. Plan B was once one of the most exciting and unafraid homegrown talents we had, but it would seem getting older has mellowed out this one time angry lad. The soul side of him works but; and particularly in the landscape we now live in, the lack of rage from Plan B raises a great deal of confusion.