By Jason Herring, May 21 2015 —
Death Grips have angered a lot of people over the last few years. Their stunts are frequent — live dates the band fails to show up for, a sudden release for an album whose cover is a picture of a dick and a breakup every year.
If their music wasn’t so damn good, it wouldn’t be an issue. No one would give a shit about their exploits, and Death Grips would become irrelevant. It’s almost frustrating when the group puts out a release like Jenny Death because it forces us to care about them.
Jenny Death, the second half of Death Grip’s double album The Powers That B, finds the hip-hop group at their most commanding. Frontman MC Ride’s raw vocals, accompanied by long-time collaborator Flatlander’s impressive production, give Death Grips an urgency they’ve been missing.
On their previous albums, Death Grips were characterized by loud, industrial hip-hop beats and MC Ride’s breakneak rapping. But the group takes a new direction on Jenny Death.
Album opener “I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States” is an immediate departure for the group, featuring a relentless hardcore-punk instrumental. This trend continues throughout the album. “Centuries of Damn” has a Japandroids-esque rock instrumental that feels almost triumphant and “On GP” has an uncharacteristic electric guitar riff.
Despite the change in style, Jenny Death also contains tracks where Death Grips builds on their established industrial hip-hop sound. Album highlight “The Powers That B” has a heavy beat that will turn it into a seminal club banger. And even the record’s more rock-oriented tracks contain an overlaid synthesizer.
The one constant throughout Jenny Death is MC Ride’s fervent vocal performance. Ride is the centrepiece of the album, with screaming vocals that define Death Grips’ sound. What’s most remarkable about MC Ride’s performance is that it never feels out of place, even when the album explores its rock tendencies.
The album is a lyrical mess, but it doesn’t matter. Lines like “my favourite colour is ‘oh my God, bitch’” are commonplace. But the content of the vocals isn’t as important as the delivery.
With , Death Grips manages to redefine their sound with the strongest collection of songs the band has released in years.