If you’re a fan of The Movement, then you were waiting for this day – patiently or not. The bands follow up to the masterpiece that was Golden was something I had in my view for quite some time. After my first listen of Golden, my thoughts were “How can they follow this one? This album is so damn good.” That thought got pushed to the back of my head with each single they released leading up the Ways of the World. Starting out with Siren (featuring the genius of Scott Woodruff) in 2017, pushing through 2018 with Cool Me Down & Loud Enough and closing out the singles with Diamond (featuring Jacob Hemphill) earlier this year. Every single release, somehow, was getting better and better. My mind now was focusing on “Wow, the singles are this good, the album has got to be amazing”. Even with all that, I don’t think I was truly prepared for Ways of the World.
Released on June 7th, MVMT Junkies (and everyone else) were treated to 54 minutes & 19 seconds of absolute bliss. Starting out with the title track, The Movement leaves no doubt on the opening note that this would be their most ambitious and complete album to date (which is no easy task considering the quality of all of their previous releases). Moving on to Redwoodz, the album brings out its first feature, with Nathan of Iya Terra kicking out a verse that definitely has me excited for new music from them. A lot of times, guest spots on albums really stand out on a song – and this one is not an exception. However, the stand out here is Swain’s lyricism. The man has really stepped it up on this album and (in my eyes) propelled himself to the top of the game as one of the best lyricists out there.
We then move on to the full out bliss that is Take Me to the Ocean. There are a lot of songs out there about the ocean. Until this one, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a song that actually makes me feel the sand between my toes and the water on my feet. The sheer bliss and relaxation this song brings out in me are almost magical. Speaking of bliss…have you heard Orange Sky yet? Swain again really excels in his lyrics on this one. The story told, the message, the cadence – it all combines to be one of the best songs that have come out of The Movement camp. “..if I had the power to rewind these years and travel back through the ages. I’d watch the story unfold through a river of tears as I longed to rewrite these pages”. Just take a second to think about that.
The bliss continues with Diamond, this time featuring Jacob Hemphill of SOJA. This one certainly makes you float throughout. The stand out here though is definitely the bassline from Mr. Smiles. While we all know to expect good things from him, he really hits it out of the park on this one. The bass bounces and rolls through the track. The atmosphere on this love song makes you float along with that bass. Now comes the Siren we all know and love. The Movement has been playing this one at live shows for years and was the first post-Golden single released. Featuring an impeccable verse from Mr. Woodruff of Stick Figure, the lyrics are again on full display here (sense a pattern?). This one is likely a favorite of a lot of fans, and it certainly is one of mine. This one will get ya so hype and ready to go. From start to finish, I can find nothing wrong with this one at all. A lot of times, you’ll find a song with a featured artist taking on characteristics of that featured artist’s sound. Not so with this one (or any features on this album). Scott’s verse blends in so perfectly with The Movement’s sound.
Next up is the first appearance of philosopher Alan Watts (definitely go check out his stuff). The sample from Watts opens up a work of art. There really is no other way to fully describe The Great Discovery. Alan Watts is a great speaker and writer, which is not in doubt. However, I think Captain Hook has passed him up on this one. Again, the lyrics are thought-provoking in a way that fit in so perfectly on this track. Outside of this lyrical genius, my favorite part on this one is how perfectly Gary Dread accentuates every note. His drumming is so powerful and slides right in there with Watts and Swain on this one. Bouncing out of The Great Discovery is Honey. At first listen, this one feels like a fun and light-hearted track. I dare ya to dig in a little deeper though. The commentary on today’s society in this one is just as thought-provoking as the previous track. Bundled in with a bouncy bassline and light and airy keys, this one sneaks up on you (and me) as yet another well-crafted song that can make ya say “Oh yeah, we certainly can be better”.
Now is the time for one of my favorite singles from the album – Loud Enough. From the minute I first heard this one I’ve been so into it. When first released, I literally played it on repeat for two days straight. Like many other tracks on this album, I dug a little deeper into the lyrics. To me, this one screams a big FU to what we call government. Or rather, what modern politicians have done to our government. It is also a call to arms for the people (who technically still own the government) to do something about it. Are we loud enough? Not yet. My interpretation aside, the bass and keys on this one are just so fun to hear live. Watching Swain really belt this one out up close and personal is truly a sight to behold as you can really tell this one means a lot to him.
After the hype of Loud Enough, we bring it down a notch with Cool Me Down. Another love song to the ocean, this one puts me right back in the water. The bouncy and almost Jamaican groove will have you bobbing your head no matter where you are. I’m in my office right now bouncing my head to Smiles’ groove. Swain also flexes his guitar skills on this one too with a nice beachy (is that a word?) solo.
Now it’s time for another lyrical masterpiece. This time teaming up with Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5 and again featuring a sample from Alan Watts – the boys turn things up a notch and really bang one out here with Break in the Glass. After the first listen and my last, this one is definitely my favorite. The bassline and drums call back to old school Movement style and the presence of J5 can definitely be felt. Chali 2na has been bouncing through the reggae scene as of late and I certainly hope I get to see him on tour with The Movement.
“On this path of life, the task simply is don’t let the trash tempt me. Strictly keep it classic and you’ll surpass quickly”.
Not to be outdone by Break in the Glass, Remember (The Return) closes out the album in spectacular fashion. To me, this one feels like a celebration of where Josh is in life and a celebration of his sobriety. He seems to be baring his soul and being open about continuing to struggle, but that his music and his friends keep him moving forward. Taking stock of how far he has come in life and embracing how writing has helped and continues to help him. Some people say that self-expression is an essential piece of true happiness…seems to me that it can definitely be that and more.
One thing I haven’t touched on yet is the top-notch production. Produced by Johnny Cosmic (John Gray), every sound on this album is so crisp and clear – it’s like we’re all in the studio with the band. The talent in the studio by Mr. Cosmic is almost unmatched as it seems everything he gets his hands on turns to gold. He is an extremely busy man as his name pops up everywhere. With all his production credits on top of touring with Stick Figure, I’m not sure how he fits it all in (probably doesn’t sleep). I’m so glad he got this one in though as he has brought The Movement out in The Movement and they’ve never sounded better.
Overall, Ways of the World is a phenomenal album. Start to finish, there is not a bad (or even mediocre) song in the bunch. Big congrats to The Movement on an outstanding release. Now begin my thoughts of “How can they follow this one?”. Somehow, I don’t think that will be a problem for these guys.
1. Ways of the World
2. Redwoodz feat. Iya Terra
3. Take Me To the Ocean
4. Orange Sky
5. Diamond feat. Soja
6. Siren feat. Stick Figure
7. Life Is a Circle
8. The Great Discovery
10. Loud Enough
11. Cool Me Down
12. Break in the Glass feat. Chali 2na & Jurassic 5
13. Remember (The Return)