Let’s Get Messy is the 10th album from chaphop maestro Paul Alborough aka Professor Elemental and it is a relentlessly upbeat affair. Clocking in at a brisk thirty five minutes and 11 tracks long (including two remixes of previous tracks) it feels a more cohesive effort than either 2019’s Professor Elemental and his Amazing Friends: Part 2 or 2018’s School of Whimsy.
Working alongside the Prof for this album is a gentleman by the name of Mister Frisbee, responsible for banging tracks such as ‘No Swingity’, ‘I’m in Love with a Robot’ and ‘Cantina Swing’. He brings a slew of up-tempo swing-inspired flavours to this outing and the combination of the two is a delight for the ears. Previously heard contributing to Professor Elemental and his Amazing Friends now we get an entire album!
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The album is bookended with an instrumental/sampled track, kicking things off with ‘State of Mind’ which opens things up in sampled soul fashion. It’s a smooth, catchy number that leads smoothly into track 2 ‘Future Vintage’ which is a rather self-referential track, welcoming in both the new year and a new selection of rhymes from the Prof.
‘Let’s Get Messy’ is the title for track 3 and it’s a fun little number extolling the virtues of letting your hair down, undoing your tie and… engaging in a food fight? I mean personally I’d rather just eat the victoria sponge than lamp it at someone but each to their own I suppose! Still a classic Prof track.
Track 4 is ‘I Put a Curse on You’ and in this day and age it’s certainly easy to agree with the sentiment, but loaded as it is with references to current events and individuals you can’t help but think it’s going to date like Spitting Image did, with listeners a dozen years from now utterly baffled as to who Michael Gove even was.
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Track 5 ‘Inside Out’ is a look at the masks people wear, the personas we present to the world, to each other and even sometimes to ourselves, the pressures that are applied to people to conform. There’s one refrain that’s particularly poignant as the Prof notes that “we’re all made of mistakes”.
Track 6 is the first remix: ‘Monster”, which was originally released last year on Amazing Friends Part 2. This one is a more low-fi version of the original, which was quite an upbeat, piano-driven number. This one is a bit more late-night jazz styled, bass and string driven. It’s actually a better version than the original. It’s got more weight, more OOMPH to it.
Track 7 ‘To Do List’ sees the welcome return of Geoffrey, the Professor’s butler. This is really the only track that specifically references the more steampunk-oriented side of the Prof. It’s a silly, bouncy track and a welcome reminder of the Prof’s origins which has been somewhat lacking in Mr Alborough’s more recent outings.
Track 8 is the second remix, this time of ‘All In This Together’ from 2014’s The Giddy Limit and it’s not as good as the original which was a sort of music-hall-esque outing. It was quirky and catchy, a song to get a crowd bouncing along to the beat with this funny little chirpy voice in the background. The remix, in contrast, opens with blaring horns and while this more jazzy approach worked well with ‘Monster’ there’s just something lacking here, there’s not as much energy as the original.
Track 9 is ‘Nice’ and after that is 10 and ‘The Cats Pyjamas’ and I’m not sure these songs should be back to back like this. ‘Nice’ is the Professor extolling not only how amazingly, stupendously nice he is, but recommending that we should all be nice to one another because it’s a much better way of living, which is fair. The problem then is it’s followed by another track which is all about lavishing praise on the listener for being generally awesome and these two tracks back to back become a rather sickly-saccharine affair that really could have done with being split up.
Wrapping things up is ‘Sympathy for the Breville’ (We see what you did there, gents) which is another sampled/instrumental track, with nothing from the Prof in terms of vocals. It’s a nice little number, but not one that’s going to make a massive impact on the listener. I’ve listened to it nearly half a dozen times now and somewhere in the middle I just kind of zone out every single time. It’s good background music, certainly, but definitely the weakest track on the entire album.
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For all this album does right (and it does plenty right), I can’t help but feel like something’s missing and that’s, well, the Professor himself. I miss his gloriously silly steampunk adventures. I miss stories about experiments gone wrong, fighting trousers, airship races and time travel. A lot of his more recent songs focus on internet culture and current events and while they’re in no way bad, I find myself craving another album like the superlative story-driven ApeQuest.
That said, this is still by far my favourite album from the Prof (and Mister Frisbee!) in the last few years. If you like the Prof, buy it. If you like Mr Frisbee, buy it. If you don’t like the Prof, buy it anyway. I think this is a good one to introduce people to his music and could well garner him some more fans. It’s tight and lean, no fluff or faff to it at all. Just thirty five minutes of damn fine music.
Hats off, gents. Bloody good one.
Let’s Get Messy is out now on CD and download.