Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Japanese pressing. Details TBA. 4 Canyon. 2005.
Taking fellow dancehall boy band T.O.K.'s swagger up a notch, Voicemail are a tight attack unit with plenty of flashy club cuts to get the party started. While their debut could have easily been a thrown-together collection of the big Jamaican hits that have dominated the island's clubs, Hey is a surprisingly well constructed full-length, built for the long haul with just one over-polished problem. The first surprise is right up front as the smooth ragga of "Do It Again" eases the listener into the album, which then explodes with the aggressive "Bring Ya Body Come," a slick track that's just as Usher as it is Elephant Man. While this hooky, hyper-swaggering dominates, convincing ballads and true Jamaican cuts like "Back to Basic" and the great "Wacky Dip" -- which pays homage to their friend, the late dancehall singer Bogle -- offer some balance and are dropped into the track list appropriately. The lone dud, the sugary sweet "One Wish," which sounds like it fell off a Disney soundtrack, is tacked onto the end. Exit on the cool "Sweet Thang" and you've got a one heck of a thrilling debut and one of the few worthy challengers to the T.O.K. empire. ~ David Jeffries