DJ Shadow
The Less You Know, the Better


3.5
great

Review

by Andru Okenuf USER (31 Reviews)
September 27th, 2011 | 23 replies | 3,258 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A young man in San Francisco discovers yet another way of getting off

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

After the humbling experience of getting ridiculed for an album he once said was “the best album I’ve ever made,” it isn’t surprising to find that DJ Shadow's latest album is a bit scattered. In the first several tracks, we see Shadow imitating Black Sabbath or ZZ Top with ‘Border Crossing,’ featuring Talib Kweli and Posdnus (of De La Soul) in ‘Stay the Course,’ sampling Pink Floyd in ‘I’ve been trying,’ seeming to echo Grizzly Bear or the Arctic Monkeys in ‘Warning Call’ and return to the ‘50s with ‘Sad and Lonely.’ As individual tracks, they are quite solid, bringing unique takes on recently or long forgotten styles, and though lacking the flow of Endtroducing, he manages to show right off the bat that he can be successful without following the same formula he used earlier in his career.

Shadow really finds his groove with the divine sounding ‘Redeemed,’ which sets up the smooth and rapid ‘Run for your Life’ and the agonizing ‘Give Me Back the Nights’, reminiscent of the Coil track ‘Circles of Mania’, and all building to the powerful ‘I Gotta Rokk.’ “Shake yourself alive. Shake yourself alive. Out of your shadow, out of your hell, out of your dream,” shrieks Shadow amidst such chaos that it goes almost unnoticed. The simple, truthful and beautiful advice he gives in a world where everyone seems to move in some kind of ridiculous electronic autopilot is simply brilliant. Not only has he attacked you with a kind of rock music never heard before throughout the album, but he manages to produce a powerful angst with more maturity and careful execution than anyone else possibly could. Serving as a microcosm to the entire album, this explosion of doubt is palpable, and as the power of it resonates, you come to appreciate all that its offering you.

Before coming to a close, Shadow crafts the futuristic, apocalyptic and gripping ‘Def Surrounds Us’ and navigates the talents of Yukimi (Little Dragon) effectively in ‘Scale It Back.’ But the hypnotizing ‘Circular Logic’ and its Aerosmith-esque compliment, ‘Come On Riding,’ bring you fantastically out of and back in control of yourself. But the whole while, you undertake a journey sure to wow you each and every time you go through it.

True, his composition cannot quite match that of his work in the mid ‘90s, and neither can his flow or even his confidence. But this is still a recommended listen to anyone and everyone because it has so much to offer. It’s likely to be one of the most diverse and eclectic records of the year, its message is incredibly heartfelt and inspired, and it is the work of a true professional recording excellent tracks. And music fans of all kinds are sure to find a small piece of the album to call their own.



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user ratings (83)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
DuMont (3)
Consistently walking the line between charmingly eclectic and annoyingly eratic....

Deviant STAFF (2.5)
The Less You Know, The Better sadly lives up to its name, where parts of the record border on the fa...


Comments:Add a Comment 
aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I feel like I more went through what a listen to the album feels like to me rather than providing an overview of it, but hopefully it works anyways. This shoulda been up yesterday and more work was put in here than might show. Oh well – HEY EVERYBODY LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM

Gyromania
September 27th 2011



14653 Comments


Great review, Andy. I've yet to hear this.

Rev
September 27th 2011



9292 Comments


Def Surrounds Us isn't on this? Boo

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

actually it is. the tracklist listed is the regular version, but the deluxe edition omits 'i'm excited' and adds 'come on riding', 'def surrounds us' and 'lets get it (bass bass bass)'



MaskAtTheMasquerade
September 27th 2011



2792 Comments


nicely done sir

also, i gotta check this out tonight. im very curious

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it sadly works better as a collection of singles than as a straight album, but there's a lot of awesome elements here.

MaskAtTheMasquerade
September 27th 2011



2792 Comments


how is it compared to Private Press?

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'd say this has more quality tracks, but private press works better as an album

Rev
September 27th 2011



9292 Comments


Isn't Private Press your favorite album, Andy?

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

endtroducing's better than private press but not by that much. and this might have more quality tracks mostly cause it has an extra 6 tracks. just like 'hail to the thief' might have more quality tracks than 'amnesiac' even though it isn't better

mothercountry
September 27th 2011



447 Comments


umm endtroducing isn't 1993

pizzamachine
September 27th 2011



12568 Comments


Good album but not really my thing! =/ pos

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

umm endtroducing isn't 1993


oops. good catch

cheers pizza. try out 'circular logic' as a standalone track even if you don't dig the whole album

pizzamachine
September 27th 2011



12568 Comments


Alright that's a cool track, too bad the album isn't on par.

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'redeemed' , 'scale it back' and 'come on riding' will all be your pace though ;] . back half of this is significantly better than the front half

MassiveAttack
September 27th 2011



2684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The problem with this album is it doesn't come off as a natural progression track by track, which you end with in your conclusion. A few ommitted tracks would of done wonders on here. "Circular Logic" and "Def Surrounds Us" remain my fav tracks on this. Good review, Andy!

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A few ommitted tracks would of done wonders on here


so much that. i'd start with omitting tracks 2, 6, 7, 8, 12. great songs but pretty all over the place stuff

mothercountry
September 27th 2011



447 Comments


the gist is that this could've been a much a better 11-13 track lp than 17?

aok
September 27th 2011



4165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the version i heard is 19. and yea it should probably have been only 11 or 12

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2011



7011 Comments


Solid review Andy, I pos-ed. One niggle which I'd like to discuss with you though, is in the usage of sentences like this one:

This powerful angst presents itself repeatedly throughout the album, but never as clearly or directly as it does here.

Two things: a.) too many adverbs (words that end in -ly) - there are three of them in that sentence, and b.) the sentence is, to put it bluntly, a weightless assertion. A quick pander around most professional reviews will lead you to observe that most professional reviewers eschew with creating those sentences altogether - and for good reason. They are the writing equivalent of filler tracks, and serve to add nothing at all to the review - save for, perhaps, the impression that the reviewer is trying to hint at something greater but struggling to express himself.

Note that I haven't discussed this point with anyone else so it may be a bit fuzzy in context - but do take whatever you can from it. Still, you are improving mate - which is neat to see.

Cheers =)



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