Prince Perry's new full-length is a fun, relaxing, and self-aware celebration of both classic reggae and third-wave ska.
It is generally considered a bad idea if you’re not from Kingston, Jamaica—or if you didn’t live in Brixton in 1981—to make a reggae album. Luckily, Love at the End of the Century, the new full-length album from local ska/reggae outfit Prince Perry, is as far from Snow as you could hope.
Ostensibly, any reggae band with predominantly Caucasian members attempting to produce an authentic sound is going to have a bit of a tough time proving themselves. That said, singer Perry Gladstone and his team of Gladtones care about emulating the genre properly; as a result, Love at the End of the Century is both technically advanced and highly self-aware. Each of the band’s eight members convey a vast knowledge of reggae and ska fundamentals. In particular, the drums during the introduction to “You Won’t Say It” sound fantastic. Also notable are the organs on the titular “Love at the End of the Century,” the album’s stand-out track. The striking lyrics tell the true story of Perry’s grandfather’s eviction from a senior’s residence after hiring call-girls to his room.
Although the group’s Facebook page lists the Clash as a major influence, don’t expect to hear lyrics rife with sociopolitical anger and protest. Rather, End of the Century opens up with a cover of the Police’s “Walking on the Moon,” off the 1979 album Reggatta de Blanc. The inclusion of the cover as the first track is an interesting and clever move; self-consciously identifying as “white reggae” allows the group to have anxiety-free elbow room with the reggae genre. The sixth track, in which Perry laments accidentally sitting on a “Bee on the Bus,” pokes fun at his white boy problems. End of the Century even delves into genres like flamenco and French pop. “Yo Te Vi” includes lyrics in multiple languages, and sounds like Serge Gainsbourg decided to record a reggae album.
While Love at the End of the Century is indisputably a tribute to Kingston Reggae, the sound is also reminiscent of early ’90s American West-Coast ska punk, like a slightly more chilled out Tragic Kingdom or a slightly less stoned Sublime. Love at the End of the Century is a fantastic soundtrack for a pre-drink with friends, and equally appropriate to clean your house to the next morning.