More than 17 years after first falling into the good graces of late Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, the dub and soul-inspired ska punks in Slightly Stoopid still haven’t strayed far from their mentor’s touch.
Like their barefoot, beer-bellied Sublime buds, Slightly Stoopid wear their slacker nonchalance like a beach bum badge of honor. And while Nowell’s untimely demise right on the cusp of Sublime’s mainstream breakthrough in 1996 left the band and other Sublime/Skunk Records surrogates to carry the torch (read: cash in on the band’s success), watching Slightly Stoopid continue to hang on so many years later is equal parts comforting and unnerving. It’s comforting in that they’re one of the last living links to the original Sublime camp, but depressing in the fact that they’re seemingly all too content to live in their friends’ shadows.
Top Of The World, Slightly Stoopid’s latest offering of punch-drunk, feel-good dub and dancehall anthems, is nothing unlike what you’ve come to expect from the band, but rather a casual rehashing of what has long become the Long Beach band’s airtight formula of slow, slinking ska rhythms and chilled-out, easy living posturing. It’s a tired retread, and at a hefty 21 tracks, it’s an unfortunately laborious listen.
Boasting a healthy number of guest appearances from the likes of Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, Chali 2na, G. Love, and reggae great Barrington Levy, the band does its best to window-dress the music’s derivativeness. But while there are some proud moments, the record leaves a bland aftertaste that’s hard to rinse out. The record’s title track kicks things off with a pleasant slab of bass-heavy, dub-infused hip pop, while frontman Miles Doughty spits what could essentially pass for the record’s mission statement (“Ain’t no need for changing/ Or rearranging/ The life we have endured”).
Top Of The World lives up to its name in the moments when the band breaks from the script, as they do on the first-wave inspired “Ska Diddy” or the G. Love-assisted “Hiphoppablues”, which almost passes for a funkier version of the Allman Brothers. Those bright spots aside, the vast majority of the album’s 21 tracks find the band rubber-stamping their way through a slate of Sublime-by-numbers ska/reggae/hip hop tracks. But hey, if you can’t beat’em, join’em, right?
Essential Tracks: “Ska Diddy”