Ibibio Sound Machine are a collective of musicians rooted in the UK that nonetheless take influence from genres all around the world: every aspect of their music and presentation is a melting pot. Their name celebrates the Nigerian language and heritage of singer Eno Williams (which is itself heavily featured throughout their work). On their first two albums, the band joyously combined funk, disco, jazz and electronic dance music, to create tracks that ooze with energy. Songs like ‘Let’s Dance (Yak Inek Unek)’ combined aesthetics of modern synth music and '80s disco to create something that sounds like moments gone by while at the same time futuristic. Their second album Uyai infused this already packed fusion of genres with upbeat punky approach. ‘The Pot is on Fire’ is an example of one of their absolutely barnstorming cuts, with rapid synths and dynamic cowbells; imagine if LCD Soundsystem were to create a world music project. However, whilst the experimental approach and fascinating mix of sounds still carries onto Doko Mien, the band have elected to use a much simpler approach to the genres that make up their collective sound.

Of course, the album still has lots to love. It opens strong with a sprawling synth instrumental that makes way for a crunchy blues riff and soulful vocals on 'I Need You To Be Sweet Like Sugar (Nnge Nte Suka)'. The song also boasts an incredibly catchy chorus refrain as Williams commands, “I need you to be sweet like sugar, sweet for me.” The song as a whole is a ‘to the point’ funk and blues rock track but is just a little too dialled back for a band that usually deals is pandemonium. The synth line just fades into the background amongst the driving blues guitar of the track. That is overall problem with the album, on its own it is still a creative approach to this plethora of genres but following the band's first two albums it feels somewhat like a step backwards. Sometimes the subtlety of the album really works though, like on the slow crawling 'I Know That You’re Thinking About Me' - which at first, feels like a ‘by the numbers’ jazz soul ballad. But the hypnotic vocals from Williams and the buildup of electronic percussion and trumpet culminates in a mesmerizing crescendo.

In ways Doko Mien feels like an attempt to streamline their eclectic controlled chaos into a more accessible sound. Which could explain the newfound implementation of repetitive lyrics. This is present on the songs already explored above but the main offender is the following track ‘I Will Run’ which repeats the same lines over a basic electronic pattern. Again, the vocals are gorgeous and the simplistic lyricism is perhaps a throwback to the way disco songs were written. Where the repetitive lyrics draw attention to the progression of a complex beat. However, the “beats” on Doko Mien are often not complex or engaging enough to draw attention away from the lyrical shortcomings.

On the contrary though, taking attention away from the lyrics can often be the charm of some of these cuts as the usual Ibibio Sound Machine hasn’t entirely disappeared from these cuts. Though tracks like ‘Wanna Come Down’ don’t feel as fresh as cuts of off Uyai, they still have moments of potential. Like a guttural screamed refrain from Williams leading into a breakdown dripping with groove at the end of the track. Moments like this remind me of some of the best cuts from Chic and Sister Sledge back at the height of their powers.

As down as this writer may seem on the record, it all comes from a place of genuine hope for the band. They've already set themselves apart from the crop of similar bands throwing back to these nostalgic sounds and genres. It is just this album doesn’t quite manage to stick out as much. It still has a handful of tracks that fuse genres as successfully as either of the first two albums. Like ‘Doko Mien (Tell Me)’ which captures the same crazy vibrancy of the band up until this point. It opens with a complex drum and cowbell line, complete with a high-pitched voice pattern that darts about the vocal register and showcases the fun that an Ibibio track can be. The track is relentlessly danceable and is credit to the band’s constant ability to meld the past and future of music into something completely different.

Doko Mien indeed falls short of the band's body of work but that doesn’t mean that every song on its own has something to offer. For the most part, the group is still never derivative as their own unique spin is still apparent on every track. For the most part, it is just too subtle to be noticed.