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Posted on June 24th, 2010 (2:53 pm) by Molly O Brien

There’s a great video on YouTube of the Glitch Mob on XLR8R TV, setting up shop on the streets of San Francisco and dropping beats and bass lines while the locals make silly attempts at dancing. As they twiddle synth knobs and bounce up and down, an irate goateed man denounces their music: “You have technicians here making noise. They’re not artists, because nobody can play the guitar.” When an old square denies your status as a musician, you’ve probably made it as an electro act.

Drink the Sea, the first official LP from the Glitch Mob, is somewhat of a departure from their usual gig. Comprised of members edIT, Boreta, and Ooah, the Glitch Mob has made a career of creating bass-heavy, glitchy (but of course) remixes for TV On The Radio and Krazy Baldhead. But their full-length debut is something darker and more expansive, and it’s great to see they can carry an album by themselves without relying on someone else’s vocals. These guys are nothing if not crazy-talented DJs/musicians/electro magicians.

Drink The Sea is largely wordless, full of lead-heavy bass and giant serrated-knife synth hooks that stick in your head and practically carve your brain in half. The best thing about this music is how epic it sounds, and that’s all thanks to the colossal drums. On “How To Be Eaten By A Woman,” they practically smash the chorus into oblivion. “A Dream Within A Dream” features a sweet combo of chopped up female vocals and tribal, Taiko-sounding drums. “We Swarm” combines technofied guitar buzz with hip hop beats.

In terms of structure, the album is uncomplicated, just ten songs all clocking in between five and six minutes long. The opener “Animus Vox” does what any good opener should do, setting the tone for the rest of the tracks and making the listener dig on the sound enough to want more. It’s dark, minimalist at some points and multi-layered in others, with the electric guitar bridge sounding like a b-side from the new Ratatat. A little over halfway through the album, there’s “Between Two Points,” featuring some icy vocals by guest Swan, as well as a chorus that would fit in nicely on a sixteen-year-old girl’s Facebook status: “The shortest distance between two points/Is a line from me to you.” The first single, “Drive It Like You Stole It,” goes heavy on hooky synth lines, metal guitar stomp, and loud-quiet-loud dynamics, ending up as a high point. It’s easy to imagine some ‘hip’ ad exec wanting to use it in a Mercedes commercial.

Props for including “Starve The Ego, Feed The Soul” as the closer. It’s a step outside the genre boundaries for the Glitch Mob, with muted guitars that radiate throughout the song, and live-sounding drums. There was clearly a choice between ending with a blockbuster banger or fading out with something a little more contemplative. “Starve The Ego” hits a certain nerve; it evokes a distressing 3 a.m. emotion that swings between nostalgia, longing, and dreaminess.

But the closing track also reminded me of what Drink The Sea is missing: sustained, meaningful feelings beyond the notes and beats themselves. Repeated listens of the first nine songs reveal a weird, disengaged flatness that prevents the music from transcending it limits. It doesn’t make the album bad, exactly, but maybe the even the most technically exciting tunes are just bass and beats signifying nothing. If this album were a character in a movie, it would be the guy in the romantic comedy who starts out engaged to the cute blonde girl. This guy is perfectly nice and treats the girl just fine. They’re totally going to get married and everything, only in the end the blonde girl gets swept off her feet by Matthew McConaughey. It’s nobody’s fault, because the nice guy didn’t screw up or do something stupid, but what can you do? So metaphorically speaking, for their next album the Glitch Mob have to figure out how to stop being the nice dude and start becoming the dude who gets the girl. Let’s hope that their next effort keeps the epic beats and adds a little extra emotion.

Track List:
1. Animus Vox
2. Bad Wings
3. How To Be Eaten By A Woman
4. A Dream Within A Dream
5. Fistful Of Silence
6. Between Two Points feat. Swan
7. We Swarm
8. Drive It Like You Stole It
9. Fortune Days
10. Starve The Ego, Feed The Soul

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

73 / 100
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