Rae & Christian - Sleepwalking

When outsiders look to Manchester there is always two things that stand out - the football team and the music. Manchester has always had that tribal mentality, a case of us against the world and the poxy southerners. Whereas its the football hooligans that get all the unwanted press attention, I'm sure there's legions of music fans that would take to the street guns in hands for the latest Manchester sensations.

"Sleepwalking" takes Rae & Christian out of the incestuous Northern Quarter scene and bigs them up to a place where they can compete on a world level. Of course we can't credit it all to the Manchester duo and much of their status is to do with a bevy of special guests. A certain Mr Bobby Womack lends a helping hand on the tracks "Get A Life" and "Wake Up Everybody". If the former is a work of a undisputed genius it is surely let down by "Wake Up Everybody" which to be honest relies to heavily on credit by association with the same insipid beats of yesteryear.

While the Pharcyde do their thang fairly predictably on "Let It Go" and "It Ain't Nothing Like", its left to the less well known collaborations to take place center stage. Vocal duties are impeccably handled by Siron on the album closer "Salvation", for this we can forgive everything. Soulful vocals gently caressing the bed of acoustica and jazz bar piano, Nice!!!! Equally impressive is the booty shaker of "Hold Us Down" with special guests the Congos.

When left to their own devices the act simply meander the line between genius ("Ready to Roll") and monkey boys ("Trailing In the Wake"). What "Sleepwalking" really holds is a promise of great things for the future, rather than a testament to the present day. Perhaps Rae & Christian have finally lived up to some of the expectations but they are still along way from making a classic album. I, for one, won't be contributing to the Mansize Kleenex tissue shortage over these guys.

Alex McCann