Review Summary: Frequently breathtaking and occasionally perfect.
When kids start bands, they inevitably spend their first three months copying their favourite group word for note for beat. Gradually, they usually edge towards other influences from their CD collection and maybe end up being half decent, but their first influence usually stays prominent somewhere in the formula. My point is that some people, through their obvious musical talent, affect the next generation despite not being particularly groundbreaking. Scroobius Pip is such a person, but something worries me about his work on Angles, because somewhere at the back of my mind all I can hear is wannabe poets sighing and proclaiming that there's no point writing because they will never, ever be as good as him.
but I've realised that love is all we have in common/and deep down you know that's true
but then surely that I'm still in love with you means there's something we can do
Dan Le Sac, the other half of this duet, the man behind the beats, is good too, and evidently this project wouldn't work without him. There may be a market for intelligent, occasionally political, always witty rap, but there is much less demand for recorded spoken word poetry. Case in fact: Letter From God to Man
samples Radiohead's Planet Telex in what is not just a sonically clever move, but also a conceptually valid one too: Scroobius Pip's lyrics mourn a world devoid of values and tolerance, and Planet Telex is equally pessimistic in a somewhat similar fashion. Of course, knowing that just makes you feel like you've understood an in-joke, but it's still a fairly nice feeling.
thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into girls' pants - use it to get into their heads
The album is riddled with gems in word form. The introduction to The Beat That My Heart Skipped
is an a capella musing about the state of music - popular music in particular - and its pandering to 'demographic's. In fairness, the album's first track deteriorates from there onwards and becomes monotonous (and probably too long). It's also the worst delivery on the whole record, and although the lyrics aren't half bad, they don't quite live up to the quality you can find elsewhere. The storytelling here is top-notch, and tracks like Tommy C
and Magician's Assistant
have serious statements, the latter being a lament about self-harm which proclaims 'this just affects you/it's your life, your body, your sister, your parents, your friends, and your partner, so you can choose what you do' behind heavy distortion and a haunting, blunted piano riff.
whether it be greed, lust or plain vindictiveness, there's a level of malevolence inside all of us
Other stand-outs include Angles
, which builds gradually and explodes in the final verse, documenting a young person's suicide and the different perspectives of everybody involved; the last refrain of 'things in life aren't always quite what they seem, there's more than one given angle to any one given scene' is shouted with venom and conviction and the heavy, forceful beat behind Pip's voice just drives it home with even more guile. The important thing about Angles
is the obvious chemistry between the wordsmith, Pip, and the beat-layer Le Sac, and the way the music almost always compliments the lyrical content. Where it doesn't is usually where the album trips up. For every realisation of genius (like how the repetitive nature of the beat behind Thou Shalt Always Kill
deliberately contradicts a line damning the same type of music) there is an awkward rhythm, like Rapper's Battle, or an anti-climax, like the droning Back From Hell
so there's a weight over me and I'd hate to have to leave, but in fate I don't believe, and the state of you and me isn't great as you can see - so I'll keep thinking this through
That said, the filler here is negligible and even the lesser tracks have enough to say to merit their inclusion on this LP. Closer Waiting for the Beat to Kick In
swerves and amazes at every corner despite its lack of structure, and cements Pip as a truly intelligent man. The piano-led hidden track is genuinely beautiful; there are moments here that will make your jaw drop and even more that will make you think. Granted, it's not perfect, but hopefully it will bring poetry to people's ears, and good poetry at that. People who haven't heard this album at least once are, in my opinion, living slightly less complete lives.