KOKOROKO Could We Be More Brownswood Recordings
Ewà Inú, the third track on KOKOROKO’s debut album, Could We Be More, is Yoruba for ‘beauty inside’. It’s a near-perfect description of the band’s unique charm and the spirit of positivity that courses through a record that would sound just as at home in a London jazz bar as it would on the streets of 1970s Lagos.
The dexterous eight-piece had only seven tracks to their name before Could We Be More, but have still managed to establish themselves as shining stars in London’s thriving jazz scene. Catapulted into the spotlight in 2018 after their viral hit Abusey Junction, the band’s focus on bringing Afrobeat into the now has made them hugely popular among seasoned critics and a new generation of jazz fans alike. Across these 15 textured tracks, KOKOROKO take us on a journey that transcends both time and borders.
The Afrobeat of War Dance work alongside its jazzy, complex guitar solos. On Dide O, highlife guitars support gorgeous vocal performances that bask in the track’s bittersweet tone, while We Give Thanks kicks off with warbling talking drums and is reminiscent of the loose grooves of Nigerian jùjú music. Simple, chant-like vocal refrains are dotted across the album, as on Something’s Going On, where the repeated lyrics “something’s going on, something’s happening now” complement the chugging instrumental they sit above. Oozing nostalgia, Could We Be More is a triumphant debut that urges you to lock into each beat, groove and chord the band conjures up. It’s clear that looking to the past is providing this south London band a bright future.