Album Reviews

Spooks – Faster Than You Know

UK release date: 22 September 2003

How many ways can an album go wrong? Well how about inevery way. Spooks’ Faster Than You Know runs into difficulties afterabout three songs. Nothing picks up, nothing unexpected happens, and the CD begsto be ejected a.s.a.p.

These Philadelphians were meant to be the nextFugees, and their first album garnered suitable praise. But TheFugees had a dirty edge to their sound which is entirely missing on thisover-produced second album from Ming Xia and the MCs. In a world where 50Cent and The Neptunes rule, the Spooks sound depressingly ’90s.For example – the raps are way too far back in the mix.

There are no really memorable hooks on this album. Thefabulous mystery of the vocal hook on their first massive hit single ThingsI’ve Seen is nowhere repeated on Faster Than you Know. Misery is obviouslytrying to repeat the effect, but fails totally.

Coming from the opposite end, Gotta Make A Hit is alaugh, but doesn’t get near giving a significant boost to the”buy-this-album” index. The meat of albums is in the songs, not the (five)skits found here. And on that matter – 20 tracks is just too much. It makesthe album seem more mediocre than it actually is.

Hell No comes closest to providing some satisfaction.Its organ riff, rhythms and flow are great. If the Spooks have any sensethey’ll release this as a second single. Crazy is also a high point. But itgives the impression of a personality-to-fit-the-track attitude amongst theMCs. They’re getting right down dirty and nasty on this, but are far toowell behaved elsewhere. The album attitude doesn’t gel.

It On It is another nice piece, mainly because therapping is minimised. The rap lyrics throughout the album are reallyuninteresting. Spooks have said that they made a decision in this albumto try and “carry a message”. This was clearly a mistake.

Sad to say that the Spooks are becoming as ephemeral astheir name-sakes. The album is – as a whole – claustrophobic, unconvincing,overblown, and missing an edge. The potential brilliance of the Spooks isclear in a few key tracks and in elements of some other pieces. But there isso much filler here that this release is a missed opportunity.

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Spooks – Faster Than You Know