On their debut, Remind Me in 3 Days
, Los Angeles-via-New Orleans brothers Kentrell “Krispy” and Alvin “Joey” Lindsey (aka The Knux
) were, at their best, pleasantly reminiscent of Outkast. Their live instrumentation, willingness to experiment across genre borders into new territory (particularly funk and rock), and pure ability to blast party music came pretty close to some of the ATL-iens’ better work. But that said, Remind Me in 3 Days
never touched the thoughtful power of Outkast, instead pretty reliably returning to sex, parties, getting messed up, sex, and sex. Where their topics felt pretty stagnant, their brief flashes of altered instrumentation, genre, and song structure (along with some solid hooks) kept things relatively interesting. On their newly released follow-up, Eraser
, the Lindsey brothers delve a little deeper into the rock world, keeping their hooks intact, but stagnating a bit musically and lyrically.
After Lil Wayne’s attempts at bridging the rock-rap chasm, hearing the guitar-riffy, two-minute-long instrumental intro to Eraser should raise plenty of eyebrows. The crystalline waves of guitar, laser gun synth bubbles, and repeated distorted guitar hook on “The Road (Intro)” sound a bit like the soundtrack to a training montage from a late ’80s karate movie of some kind. The fact that the same guitar opens following track “She’s So Up” doesn’t bode well, the duo’s chatty party flow about how “you’ve gotta keep your mind on your money and your honey by your side” a bit cliched if not enthusiastic. The wordless vocal hook, though, redeems a somewhat flat track. It’s further proof that these dudes are all about parties and woman, not necessarily in that order (or any order, really).
The easy-rocking beat of “You Can’t Lose” is a serious upgrade, paring down the big rock guitars and relegating them to accent flourishes on the chorus, and the smooth vocal harmonies make a nice compliment. Lines like “hanging out with all kind of hoes, where they come from nobody knows” again fall into the glamour-over-substance trap, but the round sound of the whole thing is smooth enough. The Natalia Kills-featuring “1974″ (in which she sings that we all need to party like it’s 1974) sounds ready-made for the current pop radio landscape, the nonsense party rap of “They know, I know, U2, Bono… with Speed, Keanu” sped up would spin out of control, but as slowly and methodically as it comes across, it gets a laugh on the first couple of listens.
The New Wave raver “Razorblade” contains almost no traces of the hip-hop grandeur that Remind Me in 3 Days flourished on, its droopy talk-singing delivery instead coming together like an apathetic early 2000s glam rock track. The much previewed “Run” featuring Kid Cudi turns the rave back up, another track aimed at crossover radio potential, the rap sections passing by in the night in the middle of Cudi’s sing-along chorus. The funk of “Queen of the Cold” opens with the pretty straightforward explanation that “You were like a snow angel trapped in a glass.” While the instrumentation sounds surprisingly like The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” and the vocals give an all-too-brief shout-out to Remind Me standout “Bang Bang”, the track drifts amiably in its lyrical content. The surprisingly antagonistic narrative just doesn’t match the upbeat, funky music; lines like “This bitch don’t laugh, don’t get my jokes” are nowhere near as interesting, fun, or infectious as their first album, nor the beat behind them.
This conflict troubles Eraser in passages. For a group that so progressively blurs the line between rock, funk, electronic music, and hip-hop, their material can trend toward the stale, their bravado and subject matter pretty standard. The bright, synthy “Maniac” has a danceable rhythm, but the perhaps unintentional Flashdance aping is a strange choice. Jack Davey’s turn on “I See Stars” pushes a twinkling electronic tune even further into light, trippy airiness, the song a pleasant enough counterpoint to the guitar rock elsewhere. The opening beat to “Fame-Us” may be the most interesting thing on the album, its twanging near-Eastern strings evocative and different.
There are hooks here that are memorable, to be sure, and some songs that would make for pretty effective radio material, but the scattered cliches keep this from being an all-out winner. The title track’s “woo-hoos” are something The Black Eyed Peas could have come up with, but the Lindsey brothers don’t push into their purely pop world, instead embracing pop rap standards.
Essential Tracks: “You Can’t Lose”, “Fame-Us