Some hacks feel the need to proclaim their love or lay into a band merely because they want to form an extreme black/white opinion that they can then spout in a review, feeling it injects some kind of ‘personality’ into their prose.
The stark truth is that the majority of music out there is neither fantastically, stunningly groundbreaking or so bad that you wish your ears would heal over. Sadly, most music exists as a shade of grey on the scale, floating somewhere between below average and above average. Surely it’s a journalist’s duty to report back the truth?
Well, sometimes restraint and reason must be eschewed in a fit of seething rage. After hearing this latest set from Leeds-born London-based ‘dance-punk’ outfit, Hadouken!, feathers need to be spat. For The Masses is chock-full of cod-Prodigy, mock-Pendulum ‘excitement’ that sounds like a bunch of teenagers screaming at themselves in the mirror in between squeezing their spots and wondering why nobody’s tweeted them for the past 18 seconds.
Lyrically it’s awful. Musically it wants to be bigger, tougher and harder than it really is, like a 10-year-old picking on a four-year-old in a playground. In reality it’s about as hard as a knob of butter in a blast furnace. Yes, youthful, angst-ridden exuberance is all very exciting, but ultimately it’s a fruitless hormonal outburst that has all the constructive worth of clapping at the end of a film in the cinema. Naming individual tracks and pinpointing their flaws is a foregone luxury when every track congeals into one amorphous clod of flaky, pubescent nothingness.
Like Embrace when it comes to expressing heartfelt emotion, Hadouken! believe they have punk attitude oozing out of every pore, but really they come across as snotty adolescents with an emotional range more limited than that of Paris Hilton. For The Masses puffs its chest up and swings its fists around in a cartoon style windmill while everyone with half a brain sits and sniggers behind their hand, hoping it grows up and calms down a bit.
Pendulum may seem weak when it comes to having any kind of firm attitude and strength to their drum-and-bass-castrated-for-mass-consumption sound, but Hadouken! make them sound like Ed Rush & Optical. Lame-arsed, flat productions with all the bollocks of a eunuch, Hadouken! trade in dance cliché after dance cliché and show no attempt to even venture slightly outside their shouty-indie-nu rave dumb and bass. This will only appeal to the band’s direct peers and, even then, there are masses of clued-up 18-year-olds out there who know one end of decent dance music from the other.
If the only way to make drum and bass appeal to ‘…The Masses’ (urgh) is to remove all semblance of genuine drama, tension and edge from it then perhaps it’s best left well alone. And if dance music is going to be inane, which a fair amount of it is, it should at least be joyful, unpretentious fun. This isn’t.
Maybe For The Masses will sell to the masses by the truckload. But then again so does Susan Boyle. This album is only worthy of more than one star for provoking a reaction. That, at least, is better than being merely another dull shade of musical grey. But only marginally.