The Very Best: MTMTMK

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The Very Best

Album: MTMTMK
Label: Moshi Moshi/Cooperative Music

Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit, known together as The Very Best, are likely the most amiable group ever to claim such a superlative title, but if the ability to exude joy through music is enough to earn it, it’s a legitimate claim. Mwamwaya’s voice is robust and ebullient; Radioclit, formerly a production duo but now simply an alias for Swede Johan Karlberg, provides support for Mwamwaya with his sun-soaked pop sounds. Though the group’s new album, MTMTMK, is slightly less varied than its debut, Warm Heart Of Africa, it captures everything that makes The Very Best so fun. “We OK,” which features K’naan, follows the simplest lyrical formula imaginable but succeeds thanks to the singer’s unadulterated exuberance. “Kondaine” uses cheap-sounding synths to convey youthful energy as Mwamwaya switches seamlessly between English and Chichewan, ultimately leading into a chantable hook. And “Mghetto” uses the comparatively sober rhythm of dancehall to strike a plaintive tone that allows the record a breather before its big finale.
There are several missteps that keep MTMTMK from reaching the heights of its predecessors. “Bantu,” a collaboration with Amadou And Mariam, produces a pretty secular hymnal that ultimately wastes momentum, while “Adani” and “Rumbae” use distortion to ill effect, needlessly complicating the otherwise joyous tone of the record. But for the most part, MTMTMK chugs along merrily, creating a global dance party that’s nearly impossible not to enjoy.

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