Year Of The Snitch
The evolution of Death Grips is one done in small steps rather than anything overt. This said for their newest effort, Death Grips open up their sound a lot and let singular hooks drive more than ever. While it’s a step in an interesting direction, the group’s insistence to hold onto their chaotic noise may still feel like a lot for most listeners.
The dense but unusually direct sound of “Death Grips Is Online” is an interesting change for MC Ride and crew, while they take their abrasive tones and give them room to breathe. Though the track still hits intense and blistering highs throughout its heavy sound, there’s something much more coherent this time around. Though “Flies” is a much more scatterbrained track that drops listeners in and out of disorienting hooks, it’s similarly open sound is just as intriguing. It’s the slowed down closing however that gives the track its standout sonic moment as Ride’s voices becomes something more enigmatic.
With a heavy hand, “Black Paint” is Death Grips at their hardest metal sound, coming to listeners with big riffs and in-your-face vocals. Bringing this kind of simple writing to their powerful sound, Death Grips is really shifting their game for something gripping and new. They also play to their more abrasive and unnerving sounds on “Linda’s In Custody” for something akin to a digital séance. This frantic and constantly firing approach continues right into “The Horn Section” where their electronics and brass tones come together like something from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
There’s a surprisingly upbeat soul to “Hahaha” that gives the song a strong sense of tension between being frightening and almost spiritual in nature. The unusual sample-twisting and overall use of samples in the song makes for quite the journey of a listen and one that will really shock people listening to the song on a good set of headphones with all the layers they play around with. “Shitshow” actually sounds like Death Grips sampling themselves while hitting some absolutely devastating rock crashes. This said the song is a so visceral it will likely turn away most casual listeners. As they spin their tones into some hilariously lo-fi rock, “Streaky” finds Death Grips really trying something new. While they still maintain their theatrics and grimy lyricism, the song is definitely a fun sonic exploration for the band.
“Dilemma” mixes cosmic samples with a little narration for something that almost sounds like them covering someone else material at times. The powerful rock sound and driving beats however center this as a fun and bouncy departure for the band. “Little Richard” really feels like too cliché sounds cutting separate from each other throughout this track. Unfortunately, even when these two sounds come together, it never reaches something really stirring in their sound.
“The Fear” on the other hand follows a more thematic and driving prog-rock spirit, with Ride serving as a battle leader in the cacophony. Despite their efforts, the track can often be too aggressive for its own good. With “Outro” serving as a sort of setup for “Disappointed” and it’s barrage of sound. Though the track is quite abrasive it leans into their energy well rather than becoming to off-putting.
Words by Owen Maxwell