The Impellers are Brighton-based ten piece who deliver their own brand of retro funk – built on sparse drum patterns, loping bas lines and fierce brass stabs. Fronted by vocalist Clair Witcher, ‘This Is Not A Drill’ is their second long player and the 12 tracks cover all the bases that you’d expect. Here you can hear modern funk, a touch of soul, a smattering of afro beat and some Latin and hip-hop influences.
The short instrumental ‘Intro’ sets up the feisty ‘Hear What I Say’ on which Ms Witcher does her utmost to copy the sound and style of people like Lynn Collins while the band cook in the manner of the classic JBs line up. It’s the most convincing cut on the album – serious, if you would. Elsewhere it’s hard to know whether a cover of the Ting Tings ‘That’s Not My Name’ is serious or not. It’s done in the manner of James Brown and has a certain appeal but my guess is that it’s meant to be tongue in cheek – (the band clearly like humour – witness the cut ‘Belly Savalas’). ‘Politiks Kills People’ is another cut that doesn’t quite work. Most would agree with the chanted sentiment – but it’s just too, obvious and cheapened by the reference to Edwin Starr’s ‘War’. Subtle it ain’t – but that’s the nature of the band and their music, I guess. On ‘Signs Of Hope And Happiness’, though, there is an attempt at some complexity as they try to create a tortured, slow soul groove. Elsewhere the band and singer wade through a repetitive ‘The Knock Knock’ – the sort of thing that Sharon Jones does so well – while the instrumental ‘Pon Lo Afuera’ offers a nod to afrobeat. Like all the music on the set it has an organic and enthusiastic feel about it. The Impellers clearly love what they do and they try hard to create a proper funk soundscape. In places they succeed but elsewhere harsh critics might use the word “clichéd”.