For well over a decade now The Movement has been flying under the radar as one of the most creative modern reggae groups in recent memory. Currently made up of Josh Swain (guitar/vocals), Jay Schmidt (bass), and Gary Jackson (drums), the trio’s music seamlessly blends pop, rock, hip-hop, dub, roots reggae, and dancehall. Their sixth studio album Golden, released April 8th through the recently formed Rootfire Collective, is their magnum opus, showcasing renewed energy and a knack for inspired songwriting.
According to Josh Swain, “It was the first time we really did it the right way. We had the best producer and engineer, the best studio and creative environment, and we were sober and 100% focused. Being so clear-headed allowed us to put out the best ideas.” This is the truth, plain and simple. Golden’s production is top notch, both inventive and dynamic within songs and varied over the course of the album.
What’s remarkable here is the group’s ability to maintain a balance over the wide range of musical styles. Although the overarching themes of redemption and hope permeate Golden, there are countless different moods at play, from the feel-good dance vibes of “Dancehall” to the hazy Saturday-afternoon storytelling of “Smoke”. The group is also careful to embrace the other side of the coin.“Retriever,” for instance, is a gripping account of hitting rock bottom told mostly in rap cadence. Despite being the darkest track on the album, it is not only deftly executed, but also courageously raw in its honesty. The song is a testament to the multidimensionality of the band’s music, and without it Swain’s story loses a bit of its humanity.
Another feature that ties Golden together is the group’s exceptional songwriting. The album is propelled by both the sheer emotion in Swain’s singing and his penchant for lilting pop hooks and soaring melodies. An embodiment of this is “Rescue,” which features hard hitting drum rhythms, slinky bass grooves, and a brilliant, uplifting chorus that kicks off with the words “music, it was there for me.” Lyrically it reflects what seems to be the album’s central message; the idea that loved ones, friendship, and the power of music are enough to cut through even the darkest times.
If the sincerity of Golden is its most striking aspect, its most impressive feat is that it remains cohesive despite incorporating such a wide range of musical influences, moods, and themes. The Movement has managed to infuse a moving story of resilience and heart into songs that will stick in your head for days. Across all twelve tracks the current of positive energy is unmistakable.Considering how compelling the album is as a whole, that optimism couldn’t be more well-deserved.