Hindsight is 20/20, but the dancehall-soca fusion now known as "ragga soca" really was inevitable -- in part because dancehall culture has so completely overtaken the Caribbean music scene, and in part because soca's bouncy, three-against-two rhythm has been an important element of the ragga sound for years.
In fact, unless you're paying very close attention, you might not even notice that this album is more soca than reggae until several tracks into the program.
Garlin's vocal delivery is straight out of the dancehall -- more rapid-fire declamation than melodic calypso crooning.
And it's extremely effective: songs like "Pan and Soca" and "Brrrt" may be silly, but the rhythms are rock-solid and Garlin commits himself to them powerfully enough to make you forget how dumb they really are.
When his material is strong enough to match his delivery -- as it is on the uptempo lovers rock combination track "Hardcore Loving" (with Rita Jones) or the hip-hop-inflected "Swing It," the effect can be explosive.
(Unfortunately, the latter track is marred by a strangely unbalanced mix, in which 80 percent of the sound is crammed into the left stereo channel.) Very nice overall.