Posted on March 27th, 2015 (10:00 am) by Mark Philipp

Death Grips thrives on polarizing audiences. Their violent, cryptic sound and image that combines elements of industrial, hip hop, noise, and metal into something that you either “get” or you don't. The group's dynamic presence extends beyond just their music, and they are often characterized by their unorthodox antics and PR shenanigans. In what was initially an unexpected move, the group announced their disbandment halfway through 2014, but have continued releasing material at a consistent rate since then, spawning confusion and sighs of relief from their devoted fanbase. Among these recent releases is Jenny Death, the second disc from the long-awaited double-album, The Powers That B. It follows Niggas On The Moon, the first disc that was released as a free download. With a group like this, there's always the chance that the next release will be the one that stretches the idea too thin and saturates their own uniqueness. Jenny Death could have been the release to do just that, but instead it provides fans with their “screaming homeless guy” fix while still somehow throwing in a few surprises.

Where Niggas On The Moon was defined by a blistering pace with shorter songs, Jenny Death drags through extended jams that open the wound and pour salt on them without sacrificing any of the energy of the former. Like all of their releases, it features the howling raps of MC Ride, the knuckle-breaking percussion of Zach Hill, and the impeccable electronic production of Andy Morin. Ride's chaotic socio-political rants are most often rapped through a sort of mumbled screech, but are, at the same time, articulate and well spoken. This oxymoron is the cornerstone of Death Grips' work and Jenny Death showcases some of the best (re: most painful to replicate) vocal work from the emcee. Hill's hellfire drumming and Morin's dark, glitched production mesh with Ride's vocals into some of the most beautifully gritty work in the group's career. Both thematically and musically, Jenny Death is disgusting, even heinous at times, but simultaneously catchy and captivating.

While it wouldn't be a true Death Grips album without all the expected musical turmoil, it also wouldn't be a Death Grips album without a few surprises. While plenty of tracks follow the formula while still feeling fresh (such as “Inanimate Sensation,” a classic romp with a sound reminiscent of Ex-Military, the earliest of the group's mixtapes), a number of Jenny Death's tracks take the band into uncharted territory. The opening track, “I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States,” takes a somewhat emotional turn as Ride acknowledges, and then wears, his perceived ugliness as a badge of honor. “Pss Pss” alternates between panicked, wobbly metal verses and a creepy electropop-influenced chorus. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't, but it's universally intense and electrifying, grabbing listeners by the throat and refusing to let go.

All this being said, Jenny Death is not perfect. It's never polished and is peppered with moments that sound like mistakes or improvised outtakes that were thrown onto the recording. It might offer new experiments for the group, but it's far from revolutionary, and of course, there is nothing here for new fans. It is likely to stop any unsuspecting listeners in their tracks less than a third of the way through. This, however, is again part of the point. Jenny Death (and Death Grips as a whole) is a fractured mirror, reflecting everything in a broken image, refusing to compromise and reduce to an easily digested product.

It's filthy, repellent, and violent, but Jenny Death is exactly what a Death Grips fan would want. It hits all the right marks and never retreats from its place at the frontlines of experimenting with new ideas, while still being true to what established the band in the first place. New listeners should perhaps start with an earlier release, but if you're one of the many passionate fans that have been biding their time while waiting for the new album to drop, stop wasting your time and cop Jenny Death at the first opportunity.

Track Listing:

  1. I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States
  2. Inanimate Sensation
  3. Turned Off
  4. Why a Bitch Gotta Lie
  5. Pss Pss
  6. The Powers That B
  7. Beyond Alive
  8. Centuries of Damn
  9. On GP
  10. Death Grips 2.0
Death Grips - Jenny Death Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

87 / 100
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