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Audio Bullys - Generation

2006-04-03 15:57
Audio Bullys' first Album, Ego War, sounded "a bit like Mike Skinner", according to almost everybody. Mike Skinner, for those who don't know, is a brilliant British rapper and Q Mag songwriter of the year, who records as "The Streets" and who stretched rhyme to the limits, adding plaintive tunes and atmospheric sounds to the mix. He generally proved that white British boys could do it really well too, just differently to how Eminem did in North America.

That's if you care about skin colour, which most critics clearly do, because they continue to relentlessly compare Audio Bullys' second (or "sophomore", retch!) album to work by The Streets, when it's not much like The Streets at all. Unlike The Street's pensive pop, Audio Bullys' chainsaw electronic effects, their working boy lyrics, and their Britpop borrowed melodies are designed more to excite the heart rate or get sympathy than to please the judgemental brains of music critics. They're brash, occasionally crude, egotistically theatrical, sometimes self pitying... and it works - half the time.

Not so hot moments include the boastful 40 second "Intro" - that track that never goes on any sane hip hop music lover's iPod but that every dumbass outfit includes on their album. The lyrics of "All Sing Along" mean very little. A few of the tracks drag on a bit when you actually listen to them. Is listening what they're designed for? Or is this really just aerobics music for intelligent people? At other times, Audio Bullys push the ugly-cause-it's-arty sound effects beyond what's beautiful. Gorillaz (on 2005's Demon Days) and Blur (on 2002's Think Tank) did this kind of thing with double the impact.

But fun and great music also comes, in powerful doses. Starting with "Shot You Down", featuring Nancy Sinatra, which for all its hollowness is an "act it out on a dance floor at 2am" classic that time and beer will surely prove powerful.

"Keep on Moving" opens with a gorgeous cascade of bells, moving into a stylish coming of age rap, borrowing a coolly soothing chorus from 70s/80s jazz-pop kings Steely Dan.

Other highlights include the repetitively thoughtful "Made Like That" (featuring the marvellous Roots Manuva), the anti-cocaine, sweet 'n sorry "Get Myself on Track", the slower jams of "I'm in Love", "Take You There" and the jaunty Beatles rip off "This Road". "Struck by The Sound" is convincing right at the end.

Like Blur, Audio Bullys sure deliver a messy sequence of songs. In this case, they had a good start. But a weak middle and a strong finish make this an album you'll want to edit tracks out of. The ones you'll have left are fresh, tuneful, warm and delicious.

- Jean Barker


Audio Bullys don't request attention, they irrupt into your headphones like a drunk at a curry house, usually bullhorning pep rally piffle like, "You are now entering the mode of the Audio Bullys.
- Sam Ubl for Pitchfork Media

The second album from this British electronica duo specializes in dark, grimy robot disco
- Christiaan Hoard for Rolling Stone

This is nearly half of a really good follow up to their debut, but that first sequence of tracks is so lackluster, so full of swagger and bile meaning nothing, that fans may not get to the good stuff.
- Ian Mathers for Stylus Magazine
The latest popular trend on the British mainstream dance scene is to go the hip hop meets pop way. In other words, play "live" by mixing live vocals with samples and backtracks, bringing guests and rapping over the mix. Think Basement Jaxx, Mylo, Stereo Mcs, and now also Audio Bullys.


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