Album Review: Mungo’s Hi-Fi X Eva Lazarus – More Fyah [Scotch Bonnet Records; July 2019]

Mungo’s Hi-Fi have been very busy this decade. Formed in 2000 by a group of sound system enthusiasts from Glasgow, they released seven albums between 2010 and 2016, with a momentum that has yet to run out of steam. For their latest project (More Fyah, released on 17th July through Scotch Bonnet Records), they are joined by singer and MC Eva Lazarus, who has previously collaborated with Gentleman’s Dub Club and Benny Page.

Keeping with their usual reggae/dub/dancehall hotpot, Mungo’s Hi-Fi allow Lazarus to utilise the different colours of her vocal repertoire in her first full-length album, in which she has helped write eight of the ten tracks. Of the other two, one of them is a cover of “Dub Be Good To Me”, which opens the show. This is an example of offering a welcoming change (less spooky, more laid back) without a drastic departure from the original melody.

More Fyah does its best to remind us that summer wasn’t a distant memory. The ragga-inspired title track fluctuates between a light swing-and-sway section and an infectious breakdown filled with manipulated vocal hiccoughs. “Light As A Feather” is the album’s brightest moment with Eva’s voice nearly as light as the title suggests, floating alongside London-based reggae artist Kiko Bun as they both encourage us to prioritise the simplicities of life.

In “Amsterdam”, Eva Lazarus depicts the aftermath of a relationship, wasting no time as she jets off for a change of scenery. Switching from a calm-and-collected, soulful delivery to a quick, sharp, sorry-not-sorry rap to justify her much-needed getaway, this is a song that can resonate particularly strongly with many.

But it’s not all about idyllic escapism. Max Romeo’s 1973 song “Three Blind Mice”, a slow roots soundtrack to a party that gets unexpectedly shut down, is sampled in “Babylon Raid” to show that that rebellious, recreational spirit has always existed and will never go away. As the LP winds to a close, “Warrior Code” and “Bad Gyal” supply Lazarus with fighting talk over productions that lean more towards grime.

Dub music can suffer if not listened to through the right medium. At headphone levels, the bangers on More Fyah sound more sizzling than scorching, however, it allows the more mellow moments to blend in more convincingly to form a collection of songs that will stick in your head for days.