Beastie Boys
The Mix Up


4.0
excellent

Review

by Richard Craig USER (120 Reviews)
June 22nd, 2007 | 18 replies | 9,562 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

When the Beastie Boys announced that their next studio album would be an all-instrumental affair, a few eyebrows were undoubtedly raised. While this reaction is understandable considering that the group are famed and loved for their rap music, fans of the group must be aware that the trio do have it in them to record an album such as this. The fact that they began life as a hardcore band back in 1981 serves as evidence that they can play their own instruments. Ever since then the band have grown more out of touch with their hardcore punk roots and instead have grown into the rap group that we know them as today. Their Ill Communication and Check Your Head albums were both interspersed with instrumentals that saw the boys pick up their own instruments again, and these two albums' interludes act as a good indicator of what fans can expect with The Mix Up, their twelfth album. The album is made up of funky/jazzy music made with relaxing in mind; and it does it's job well as the laid back, almost 'lounge-jazz' nature of the music here is certainly a departure from other albums.

When a band/group makes the decision to record a fully instrumental album, there are a few things that they must take into consideration: that instrumentals become boring very quickly if there is not enough variation; the motifs used need to be interesting enough in the first place to catch and hold the listener's attention; and the music should create a mood or an atmosphere as there are no lyrics to do this. While Beastie Boys don't always manage to tick off all of these check-points, as it were, they do normally manage to be able to cross off at least two of the three-and by doing this they have managed to create 12 tracks that are both listenable and enjoyable.

The main music style on the album is 'lounge jazz' and therefore the mood throughout is a very laid-back one. Album opener 'B For My Name' is perhaps the best example of this, as it sets up the stall right away, and lets the listener know what awaits them with the remaining eleven tracks. The following track, '14th St. Break' has the most in common with what fans would normally expect from the band; it has a hip-hop beat playing throughout, and bridge made up of whistles, steel drums, cans and other percussive instruments so that it sounds reminiscent of 'Triple Trouble'. It displays good use of motifs that are certainly interesting-the distant tabla sounds throughout much of the track, and the moaning guitar solo make the track one of the best on the album.

The use of motifs is very well-executed throughout the album, as generally they are repeated enough times to matter, but are also ended, changed or built upon soon enough to keep the track from going stale. While this is done well throughout the album, there is the odd track where it is not achieved, and the longevity of that track suffers as a result. 'The Cousin of Death' starts out with a bass-heavy, distorted riff, that initially sounds very promising indeed. However, this riff is repeated during the whole track and while 'extras' such as cowbells change slightly, it becomes repetitive fairly quickly. However, 'Electric Worm' is the polar opposite of this lack of variation, as it manages to cram in both guitar and panpipe 'breakdowns/bridges' as well as a main theme consisting of an impressive bass line that is very prominent, the cowbells and steel-drums offer polyrhythms with the rest of the instrumentation, and add even more to the already brilliant track.

The single for the album is 'The Gala Event', believe it or not starts off sounding very similar to Explosions In The Sky, with a melancholic guitar melody that creates a lot of atmosphere, in fact it creates mood better than any other song on the album. The post-rock like guitar riff continues, being backed by a hip hop beat, and is further accentuated by pushes from a second guitar that are very funky. If that track was not to be the single for the album, then any of the other tracks here could have done the job well as they are all (except maybe, The Cousin of Death) of a high enough calibre to do so. The best track on the album comes in the form of the bluesy 'Off The Grid'. While other tracks may not have made the most of dynamics, 'Off The Grid' realises the potential of incorporating a clear loud/quiet dynamic. Starting the quiet section off with a bluesy riff that continues for a while, with enough variation from other instruments to remain interesting; it suddenly and very unexpectedly leads into a much louder section. The texture thickens and we are treated with a guitar solo, of sorts. The texture thins again, as the volume decrease back to its starting level, thus completing the most dynamic track on The Mix Up.

While an all instrumental album from the Beastie Boys has always been a possibility, there was no doubt that there would be those willing to dismiss it as a failure, and doubting their ability to pull it off successfully. Well, The Mix Up has certainly proved the doubters wrong; as the Beastie Boys have made a mature, enjoyable, and some may say - great, album. They have proved that they can write music without the need for 'yappy' vocals that are in some cases juvenile, yet nevertheless, entertaining. This album is just as entertaining as most of what they have done before, and some may find it even more entertaining. While it is still to be seen how successful the album will be with the fans, it certainly meets the criteria of what is needed from an instrumental album, and in the Beastie Boys case, exceeds people's expectations of what the trio is capable of.

---

Due June 26th, 2007, you can stream the album in its entirely here:

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2007/06/stream_the_new_10.html



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user ratings (211)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Fort23
June 22nd 2007



2474 Comments


Am I a moron? I didn't even though the beasties released a new album until about 30 seconds ago. Wow. I might like this, not sure though. Nice review.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2007



2634 Comments


Craigy, you need to link to the stream at the bottom of your review or as a comment.. I did it for you this time, but please remember to do so in the future.

craigy2
June 22nd 2007



551 Comments


ok, thanks. i was unsure of what to do about that, and whether we're allowed to review albums before they come out. cheers.

thunderzstruck
June 22nd 2007



148 Comments


i was really looking forward to this but i listened to the first four tracks last night and was very disappointed.

it has no pizazz. Nothing was interesting and sounded bland :/

The Jungler
June 22nd 2007



4827 Comments


I don't know how great of an idea this was for the band, but I guess I won't know until I know.
Good review.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2007



2634 Comments


ok, thanks. i was unsure of what to do about that, and whether we're allowed to review albums before they come out. cheers.

Yeah, there's an announcement in the community forums... I just want to make sure it gets enforced. The lazy thing would be for me to delete any and all reviews that don't link to the stream, so if people don't want that to happen, then they have to put in just a bit of work, haha.

chunkylover
June 22nd 2007



1 Comments


good review

smokersdieyounger
June 24th 2007



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is also thier second instrumental record. Also, you can't have heard thier hardcore punk roots if you think it shows they are good musicians!

Great Review, can't wait for this and seeing them live at Bestival!

craigy2
June 24th 2007



551 Comments


haha. i said that their hardcore punk roots serve as evidence that they can play their own instruments, not that that this is proof that they are actually any good at them!

thanks!

samthebassman
June 25th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a pretty good album.

blackmilk
June 26th 2007



584 Comments


Most of this album sounds the same, but I can't help but enjoy it. Too many generic sweet grooves to dislike.

samthebassman
June 26th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^
my thoughts exactly

Oblivioncry
July 23rd 2007



601 Comments


all the instrumentals they played on the roskilde festival were quite boring, but this instrumental record sounds good all on its own, weird

skateMASTERbater2
August 1st 2007



39 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i wasn't expecting to much, but it's a great album.
Good review

guitarplaya91
December 16th 2007



485 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think i'm picking this up soon.

is it worth it?
they only place they sell it near me is starbucks.

Glomp
May 28th 2009



81 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pretty funky, 14 St. Break is very tight.

Spec
January 22nd 2011



27057 Comments


Pitchfork says it's the hotness.

jefflebowski
November 29th 2011



7379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

not as good as In Sound

Digging: Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma



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