Review Summary: Like fitting a square peg into a circular holeThe Money Store
was an album I invested a lot of time into to try to get to know. I had originally heard of it through all the traction it was receiving two years ago. After listening to the first couple tracks however, I was dumbfounded how it was ever thought of so affectionately, let alone in the discussion for album of the year. I remember hearing the positive commentary from big names in the reviewing industry–sites like the usually hard-to-please Pitchfork adorning this album with an 8.7 and the title of ‘Best New Music’, while Drowned in Sound gave The Money Store
a perfect 10, heralding the album as a “game changer”. And as I pressed play one more time and heard Get Got
’s beat sizzle and crack out of the speakers, sounding like something out of Kid A
on amphetamines, I buckled in my seatbelt and held on for dear life as I, yet again, sat shotgun in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Pinpointing this album’s genre is quite difficult; if there was a category called “soundtrack to the night you won’t remember” this would surely fall under it. There is no foreground and background like the music you are use to. The vocals are as much an instrument as the polyrhythmic drums, provided aptly and live by Hella’s Zach Hill, which are used as gasoline to fuel the cacophonous tonal fire. There are definitely roots in trap and industrial, as the beats either sound like computers on repertory machines (System Blower
) or like Dubstep on downers (Bitch Please
). To call this a rap album however would be quite a stretch as there is barely any rapping on the The Money Store
so much as there is yelling.
MC Ride is aggressive, howling and spitting like a feral wolf in every song. The vocals are chopped and skewed, gritty, and most noticeably, loud and incoherent. The songs all sound like the taped ramblings of a returned veteran who has seen the horrors of a foreign land and has had a bit too much to drink and a lot too much snort, smoke, inject, and ingest. It’s suffocating. Blackjack
is aural paranoia, the words twisted and smothered by beats that would sound right at home on last year’s Yeezus
. It’s frantic. Hustle Bones
sounds like three different songs overlapped and fused with one another, ultimately culminating in pure robotic anti-music.
And perhaps that is what irritates me most about Death Grips. There is no focus, no streamlined musical idea that either of the two members of Death Grips seem to have in mind. There is no variety. There is no breather. There is no rest. No stylistic shifts present or surprises around the corner. After you’ve heard the album’s first track, you’ve basically heard them all. In all fairness, however, The Money Store
isn’t trying to be the next ‘big thing’. It is, however, attempting to offer an avant-garde alternative for those who just need a kick in the balls or an escape from the sugary-sweet drab of radio pop. Unfortunately for the Death Grips, The Money Store
is sullied by their over-ambitious zeal to do just that. The music tries to be different for difference sake and winds up being abrasive and isolating.
But I've given the album a fair shot. I've tried to like it, to even appreciate it. I have approached the music at different angles, trying to see what so many others have keenly noticed beneath the layers of dissonance and bass that classifies The Money Store
as a 'classic'.
But I've failed.
So maybe I just don’t get it. Perhaps this is an album misunderstood by those like me and is only later able to be appreciated by those who neglect the album in a retrospective light that benefits from being able to see the bigger picture–the influence the album has on artists and other music alike¬–much like Black Sabbath’s self-titled 1970 release which opened the floodgates for Heavy Metal years later. An even more recent example is Burial’s 2006 eponymous debut which has become a huge landmark in Dubstep and Garage. But like most of the things in life that try to stick out by being completely different from everything else around them (Crocs, MySpace, Grunge, etc.), The Money Store
feels more like a phase than a genuine classic, an album that has reached the apex of its possible satisfaction and is now beginning its descent, becoming nothing more than memories and nostalgia by 2017.
This is music for the people who are tired of listening to what is deemed ‘acceptable’ and ‘popular’ by a seemingly less-than-qualified consensus. And in that aspect, The Money Store
is like the Punk-Rock movement of the 70s. It’s an effort to create a new norm by challenging the listener on what he thinks or knows is ‘allowed’ in various types of music, whether it be dubstep, rap, hip-hop, and even hardcore. It’s the sound of a band that doesn’t give a **** and appeals to others who feel the same.
Sure, Death Grips might be the music of the future. And if by 2025 this album still serves as a landmark, than I will have been wrong, hopelessly blind to the evolutionary path music took and labeled indefinitely as someone who thought he knew better and was ultimately put in his place by Time itself. But until that day, after spending 41 minutes of my life listening to The Money Store
, the only thought that currently manifests is, “I want a refund”.