Arrested Development, Since the Last Time

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The third album album from Georgia hip-hop collective Arrested Development is called Since the Last Time and, if memory serves, the 'last time 'was 1994. Arrested Development had followed their Grammy-winning debut with Zingalamaduni, a follow-up that traded its predecessors effervescent choruses and immediate hooks for limber, open-ended jams and circuitous structures. Unsurprisingly, the record sold poorly; the group dissolved shortly thereafter and frontman Speech embarked on a mostly unsuccessful solo career. So it's a surprise that Last Time does so much to recapture what made Arrested Development interesting in the first place. It's not a monumental reclamation of the mantle, but rather a small, joyous album, one that draws heavily on the sound of classic soul. Speech's flow is easy and relaxed, rolling lightly over the beats. The rhymes never sound overthought or overworked; in "Stand" he philosophizes: "people don't change because of words alone/ and the nation could be changed by one person who's strong/ and the truth can be buried for moments of time/ but like the last day, buried things are bound to rise." It's a conventional sentiment, but laid over a simmering rhythm it sounds perfect. Fifteen years on, Arrested Development have transformed into a milder Sly & the Family Stone, setting social consciousness to warm, mild funk.