Thievery Corporation
Culture of Fear


3.0
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 4th, 2011 | 15 replies | 7,411 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thievery Corporation manufactures an ethereal but slightly disappointing album for the masses.

For sixteen years, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have combined a jazzy groove with the smoothest beats to elevate Thievery Corporation above their electronic contemporaries. Known for their crafting of meticulously detailed soundscapes and night life atmospheres, the band has established itself as a pioneer in various corners of the electronic genre. Their sophomore effort The Mirror Conspiracy really brought them into public light, featuring a smooth, jam-session brand of trip-hop that provided the ultimate companion to any cocktail party or evening club lounging. The hit ‘Lebanese Blonde’ went on to become one of the band’s most renowned songs, even scoring a place on 2005’s indie-laced Garden State soundtrack. Over the years, they proved to be anything but an anomaly, delivering album after album of rich, texturally diverse electronic music - often with a slight twist such as hip-hop or middle-eastern influences. Now they find themselves releasing their eight studio album since their inception, blending their signature brand of electronica with entrancing beats and minimalist rap.

Culture of Fear might be just what you would expect from a band that is almost two decades into a storied and illustrious career. They don’t stray too far from the beaten path, focusing more on expanding and improving their formula than innovating it. Garza and Hilton again strive for an amicable, almost passive sound that lends itself to casual and/or social listening. That isn’t to say that the atmospheres aren’t as developed as they should be, because a focused assessment proves to reward with layers of complex production - something we have all come to expect from Thievery Corporation. However, Culture of Fear seems like an exercise in relativity. That is, every song is dependent upon its frame of reference – the grand, far vaster scope of the work as a whole. There are no ‘Lebanese Blonde’ caliber tracks that will just floor you immediately, and every song simply sounds better in the context of the album. In no way does this have to be a weakness, as history has proven that many of the greatest albums ever recorded are a product of dynamic flow. However, that approach usually works better when there are more diamonds than rough – and somewhat fortunately, somewhat unfortunately for Thievery Corporation, their latest LP contains neither. While there are no album-defining tracks, there are also no duds…which upon evaluating the record as a whole, is at least one trace of optimism that nobody can take away from Culture of Fear.

While Garza and Hilton seem content to trod along for the most part, they do so with every bit of grace and style that Thievery Corporation’s back catalogue suggests they would. As soon as Culture of Fear opens with ‘Web of Deception’, the listener is automatically transported to an atmosphere composed of a peaceful aura and a sense of ultimate relaxation. With heavy synths, distantly echoing vocals, and funk grooves, you essentially have no choice but to submit to the aural journey that has been laid out before you. The title track proves to be a successful fusion of hip hop and ethereal electronica, while latter tracks such as the spacey ‘Stargazer’ and the swirling ‘Tower Seven’ keep the album continuously rooted in that uniformly tranquil air. Redundancy also never really becomes a problem here, as each track is distinguishable enough to warrant praise as being unique. Even though all the songs are equally as relaxing, they all set the mood in slightly different ways - and that prevents Culture of Fear from ever growing wearisome. The second-to-last track, ‘Overstand’, is perhaps one of the record’s exemplary instances of that, introducing a tropical/reggae vibe that illustrates Thievery Corporation’s willingness to still take the occasional calculated risk.

All in all, though, Culture of Fear is an album that Thievery Corporation released to please the masses. It is thorough, well-produced, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. The style centers around the band’s classic sound, offering up a lot of what fans would expect, but almost nothing outside of their regular toolbox. Like prior works, it will fit in perfectly on your next trip to the club or your midnight stroll down main street. However, it lacks much of anything memorable, serving best as background music for such occasions. Considering the type of music they make, that might not be the worst thing – but in its somewhat forced nature it loses the effortless feel of prior albums that lent Thievery Corporation’s music an element of novelty and transcendence. For as smoothly as this album goes down, it all feels kind of boxed in – which makes for nothing more than another solid release from the dynamic duo.



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Andru Okenuf (3.5)
Chill and easy on the ears...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



15951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stream
http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/9



Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

MrGunslinger
July 4th 2011



267 Comments


Damn Sowing you are on a roll

Amazing work of art after another. You're like Leonardo Di Vinci: every piece can not be topped.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



31146 Comments


Electronica in the review = negging

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



31146 Comments


from the duo of DJs


Change this, they're not DJs at all. You could call them artists or producers

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



15951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

changed it...it may be more correct now but it doesnt sound nearly as cool

way to cramp my style man

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



31146 Comments


heehee

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



15951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

changed it again actually, will probably keep this one

nice rating btw

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



31146 Comments


They're not Batman and Robin you know

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2011



23814 Comments


good review. I still can't shake this weird urge to check this out even if it does sound mediocre and I didn't like the last one. I like the artwork cause fuck da police

aok
July 5th 2011



4416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

mine coulda really used an opening paragraph like yours has. what's funny is even though i like this better than you, i don't particularly care for 'overstand'. 'take my soul' and the other lou lou tracks are what brings this up to a 3.5 for me.

how'd you think this compared to radio retaliation or anything else you've heard by them?

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



15951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I would say it is pretty run of the mill for them; it's good but nothing special.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2011



15951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

listened to this over the weekend, played it in the background of a pretty chill party. i think this album has found its niche.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2011



31146 Comments


In the back of my mind

aok
July 11th 2011



4416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think this band has always had that niche and that's why i really appreciate them

aok
January 8th 2012



4416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

still jaming out to 'tower seven' . also, this should be nice in a couple days: http://lepoissonrouge.com/events/view/2910



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