Friday, March 12, 2010

_Goodbye Bikini Island_ Album Review

The super cool website ran an awesome review of Goodbye Bikini Island. You can read it at their site...

...or check it out here, reposted from TheSilentBallet:

HOSEY - Goodbye Bikini Island  (7.5/10)

Fans of instrumental hip hop have had it tough going these past few years. The genre seems to have hit a rough patch. Many of its heroes have deserted it: DJ Shadow went hyphy, then dropped off the grid after his middling third album; The Avalanches vanished into the Australian mists from whence they came after 2000's epic Since I Left You; RJD2 jumped ship and started singing indie rock; J Dilla passed away in 2006. Only Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, and a handful of skilled auteurs are still doing anything listenable with the form. Add New York duo Hosey to that list. Their latest album, Goodbye Bikini Island, is a love letter to the seemingly bygone era of break beat infused, sample crazed, rhyme-free boom bap.

Hosey consists of Patrik Phalen on turntables and Matt Hughes on bass. That may sound like a bit of an odd setup, turntables and a bass guitar, but it works. It infuses the songs with a rockist low end, adding an extra layer of melodic and rhythmic complexity to the affair. Matt's bass provides the melodic backbone for tracks like "Suburbs of Cybertron" and the 30 Rock-sampling "Like an Animal." Patrik, in turn, uses that as a launchpad for various turntablist flights of fancy, gleefully rummaging through pop cultural detritus and scattering whatever he finds -- bits of classic cartoons, movies, TV shows -- over the tracks like a restless kid elbow deep in a toy chest. Goodbye Bikini Island splits the difference between upbeat, rock-oriented songs and more contemplative fare, and it's a testament to the years Matt and Patrik have spent working at it that Hosey sounds completely at ease working in either vein.

The rock songs come in a block at the top of the record. They sit directly at the crossroads between hip hop and guitar rock, incorporating elements of both genres into the mix so effortlessly that it feels like there was never a difference between the two. "Mode 7" wears its bluesy guitar part like a badge of pride, rocking out loud and hard over busy breakbeats before it slowly melts into the next track. The whimsical "Just a Few Seconds" is a Looney Tunes sampling guitar jam that unexpectedly crashes into a sea of forboding, ringing synths during its final minute. "It'll Happen to You," partially a showcase for Patrik's scratching skills, contains a similar moment; the angular, post-hardcore riff at its core resolves itself toward the end of the song, and a creepy atmospheric interlude takes its place.

Goodbye Bikini Island's quieter side kicks off with the muted, simmering "Suburbs of Cybertron," which swaps out hip hop's trademark clipped snares for toms. Here they ease off the guitars for a bit to stretch out and mine more wistful, yearning melodies. The emotional directness that characterizes this portion of the album is best exemplified in the one-two punch of "I Just Wanna Go Home" and "So There's a Girl...," the record's emotional core. The former features a lilting piano melody that washes over gently crashing cymbals. The latter plugs away at a shimmering synth figure, unabashedly reveling in its '80s referencing sound, all the while bustling with hope and sincerity. "So There's a Girl..." is a throw back to the glossy ballads that used to dominate the pop charts --  some warped, moody cousin to Heart's "What About Love" or Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place on Earth." The title track is a blissful coda to "So There's a Girl...," a brief foray into straight up ambient drone music that previous tracks only hinted at.

For those who like Looney Tunes, Spaceballs, guitars, Home Movies, Nancy Wilson, spaced out synths, beats, 30 Rock, or any combination thereof, this is definitely an album to check out. Goodbye Bikini Island is a dreamlike breeze of an album; it's nine tracks come and go without overstaying their welcome. In fact, the only problem with the album may be that there isn't more of it. Luckily, Hosey makes up for that paucity of length by stuffing each track with a tuneful vibrancy that keeps things interesting upon repeat listens. Anyone who's still waiting for Shadow and company to get their collective shit together, stop. Hosey's already got it going on.

-Craig Jenkins