Sunday, September 16, 2007
Northern State--Can I Keep This Pen? (2007)
Album-Can I Keep This Pen?
Release Date-Aug 28, 2007
Genre/Style-Left-Field Hip-Hop/Indie Electronic
Review-While these Long Island girls have rudimentary skills on the mics, Beastie Boys disciples Northern State illustrate that they know how to have fun in the studio on their third CD as they bounce around from genre to genre, intersecting indie rock, electro, and hip-hop with ease. If you could mesh Luscious Jackson's Fever in Fever Out with the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill this album would be the result. It's a balancing act between alt-rock grooves with sweet harmonies and booty bouncing bass with old-school raps. In similar Beasties fashion, the girls drop simple, intersecting rhymes, and never take themselves too seriously. Their lack of pretension is a huge redeeming factor, making up for the fact that they ultimately don't have much to say. Hesta Prynn, Spero, and Sprout blab repetitively about dancing, cooking, dumb boys, organizing the fridge, and random mundane blither. But it doesn't matter. They're just having fun and it shows. The production is top-notch, especially when Ad-Rock dusts off his SP-12 (which was presumably in storage since the release of the Beastie's instrumental The Mix Up) and lays the hammer down on a beat reminiscent of Biggie's "Hypnotize." When the pendulum swings over to a more musical side, the results are the best songs that Jill Cunniff never wrote: "Better Already" and the brilliantly swooning, acoustic guitar and Rhodes-based "Run Off the Road." During times like these, when it feels fresh and quirky, the results are entertaining and fun, but unfortunately when the songs fail, they can be downright embarrassing, like a Saturday Night Live skit gone sour. That's not all that surprising when a band is based on a gimmick, like, "Hey, wouldn't it be funny of the three of us suburban white girls formed a rap group?" When the whole concept of the band is jokey, in the same sense as the "Lazy Sunday" rap performed by Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg in the aforementioned show, inevitably the comedy routine will get tiresome. The confusing part is that their raps are rarely clever, and at times can be downright lame (like in "Sucka Mofo"), while the songs that they sing on are actually quite good, not unlike the Tom Tom Club or the Blow. It's tempting to recommend that Northern State start making some serious pop songs, but then again, who could ask a group having this much fun to start taking themselves seriously? Their spunk is entertaining, and in the ipod generation where attentions run short, their multiple personalities will keep people guessing. Scatterbrained as Can I Keep This Pen? is, it would have fit perfectly in the catalog of the deceased Grand Royal, but somehow seems appropriate landing in Ipecac's strange and wonderfully eclectic lap.
Product-buy it here