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