When ‘The Money Store’ was reviewed on its release earlier this year, most critics seemed to fall over themselves trying to explain how they had struggled to categorise the Death Grips sound (was it ‘Rock Rap’? was it punk hip-hop?) before magnanimously declaring that pigeonholing was a waste of time. Perhaps it’s only critics who worry when they can’t slot a record into a well-worn genre slot.
For me ‘The Money Store’ is a delirious, ravenous, rampaging record. It’s blunt: witness Stefan Burnett’s brick-in-the-face vocals. It’s dazzling: samples and electronics course through the album like lightning bolts. It’s brutal, both in the heavy hit of individual tracks and the pounding pressure that builds up across the record as the blows keep coming. It’s also huge fun. Try doing the washing up to ‘The Money Store’ without either dancing around the kitchen or stomping around the house pretending to be a yobbish street hustler.
E.B. White famously said, “Analyzing humour is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” When I hear a record like ‘The Money Store’ the folly of labelling music seems pure and palpable. Artists like Death Grips, Flying Lotus and M.I.A. don’t belong in a set but all seem to be smashing together sounds to reproduce the noise of the urban 21st century. Why bother worrying where to file it? Just dive in an enjoy the sheer energy, insistence and inventiveness.
Tom Listened: Rob’s choices have become increasingly cacophonous over the past few meetings. Since the tranquility and grace of Lambchop, he has pleasured us with albums by Fugazi, Babes in Toyland and now this (I missed the Dumb offering but I gather that was no walk in the park either). I’d be happy to wager that he won’t be bringing Richard Clayderman to the next one!
Death Grips is everything Rob has said it is in his write up. I thought it was wonderful – messy, irreverent and packed full of interest and invention. Having said that (and we talked about this on the night), I don’t really feel the urge to own it – even in those increasingly rare moments when my still just about innocent children are safely out of earshot, I reckon The Money Store would be unlikely to find itself on my turntable as, in a similar way to Babes in Toyland, it’s such a demanding and exhausting listen that I’d need to get me some Clayderman as an antidote…and I don’t want to have to do that.
Nick listened: Big cosign with both Rob and Tom; this is as brutal, rambunctious, crazed, and enervated as described, and then some. It’s a very modern, 21st centruy style of cacophany, too, and as Rob suggests, difficult (pointless) to try and pigeonhole to the point where even trying seems ridiculous: I’d add Animal Collective to MIA and Flying Lotus in the post-millenial kitchen-sink-eclectic artists list, and there are plenty of others too, who throw seemingly everything into the mix, process it, chop it, add a crazy beat, and call it pop music despite it being really quite sonically extreme an awful lot of the time. I guess, in these post-genre times, ‘pop’ is about the most efficient catch-all term.
Like Tom, I’m not sure what use I’d have for Death Grips in my day-to-day life, when I’d listen to them or for what purpose. Of course, music doesn’t need to have a purpose; it is a purpose in itself, and when the crazy, angry clattering coalesced into bona fide dancefloor hooks on the final track, Death Grips’ purpose was brilliant.
Graham listened: The first album at DRC which inspired me to consider fitting a sub-woofer in my car, tint the windows and drive around the ‘hood with intimidation in mind (even if just going to the Co-Op). As a parent I would be moderately concerned if it appeared on my daughter’s ipod but I might just sneak it in the car to pump myself up for a difficult day at work. Fantastic.