Ah, the sophomore curse. It's a minefield for most artists, and rare indeed is the second album that matches the first. After due consideration, I declare that the problem is primarily one of gestation. The songs that comprise a debut are usually ones which have been fine-tuned over a number of years while the individuals concerned earn enough reputation or money to pull off a widely distributed release. It's a learning curve for musicians, and one which many fall off of.
Earnest hip-hop/electro aficionados Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip are clinging to said curve by their fingertips, just about managing to avoid plummeting into the also-ran canyon. Just about.
I reviewed their debut on the pages of this very site, and declared it to be quite sublime. This seemed to be in contrast with much of the rest of the internet, who condemned Mr Pip in particular with some very harsh language (not to mentions numbers). Cries of pretention and arrogance abounded, and his rhymes were said to be not much to write home about. I still appreciate the debut thoroughly, but with a few spins of 'The Logic Of Chance' under my belt I now feel I can see where said reviewers were coming from.
The performance hasn't particularly altered, but unfortunately it has thus far been substance rather than style holding together his MC work and with a lower quality of lyricism the substance has suffered. Whereas previous work touched a number of topics both light-hearted and dark with a degree of self-deprecating panache, these songs feel like half-hearted stabs at the same. There's more of a commentary on life in Britain here than the first time round, but sadly it turns out to be just as depressing as actually living here. Determined efforts from the hip-hop pulpit such as an attack on musical elitism in "Snob" purely generate in me a cynical retort. Yep, people are pricks about their chosen genre of music. And really they shouldn't be. What's your point, Mr Pip?
By contrast the musical stylings of Dan le Sac have, if anything, improved over the past two years. Veering away slightly further away from hip-hop beats and more into techno burbles and synthlines for the most part, the slight reduction in variation is made up for by the quality of the composition and production, the latter of which was most definitely an issue on 2008's 'Angles'. A stark example of how the backing has disassociated itself from the vocals is on "Stake A Claim", a track which marks out the beginning of a definite decline halfway through the album. It's thumping bassline and percussion is pure retro bubblegum electro heaven, but Mr Pip's contribution sadly sounds as though it was written by a sixth-former who has only just discovered political agitation.
It's not all bad news the first half is decent, if lacking any particularly refreshing inspiration other than the brute positivity of "Get Better" and searing but gentle trauma of "Five Minutes". Hopefully future releases will see a bit more time spent in development. Otherwise le Sac and Pip might lose their grip on the learning curve entirely.
6.9 / 10
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