Using both their music and interaction with their cult fan base, it seems as though Death Grips are on a mission to confuse and overwhelm. Nine months ago, they abruptly announced their disbandment shortly after circulating the double album The Powers that B. The first disc, Niggas on the Moon signalled a departure from the belligerent and blaring sound that has characterised Death Grips so thoroughly. It was a more toned-down approach and played like a frivolous collection of beats. Released in between the two discs ofThe Powers that B was Fashion Week, a mixture of instrumental jams that felt like little more than an exploratory side-project.
In a sense, everything missing from Niggas on the Moon and Fashion Week appears on the second instalment of The Powers that B,Jenny Death. MC Ride and co. have reverted back to their distinctive rock-rap collision sprinkled with stupefying electronica. The glitchy opener ‘I Break Mirrors with My Face in the United States’ is a dizzying cocktail of shuffling drums and chaotic synths. It catapults you straight into a state of pandemonium, setting the tone for the rest of the record. This is followed by the tetchy ‘Inanimate Sensation’ which is constantly pushed along with noises that resemble an out-of-control lawnmower. While MC Ride provides us with some of his archetypal ludicrous lines, underneath it all there is a social commentary that is deeply scornful of the Internet’s influence on society, as he spits ‘No relation close liaison, no conversation, no social contagion’. His anger is relevant and not completely aimless as it may have been perceived to be. Elsewhere, he deals with the theme of death and there are suicidal undertones littered throughout this record. MC Ride’s recklessness can be just plain funny, like when he snarls ‘I’m smoking cigarettes in the shower, when they get wet I just light another’.
But the most striking feature of Jenny Death is its frequent use of commanding distorted guitars and drums. Never has their punk rock influence been so conspicuous. ‘Beyond Alive’ has a Sonic Youth-esque riff smothered all over it and the album pinnacle ‘On GP’ is chockfull with heavy metal trills and a somewhat reflective-sounding mid-section. Zach Hill’s leaves a big thick mark on the record with his earwax-melting drumming that harks back to his days in Hella. The more straightforward rock-infused tracks stand out the most while experimental numbers like the filthy ‘Pss Pss’ and the cacophonous ‘The Power that B’ fail to hold the LP together. Meanwhile, the shuddering electro-mania of the closing ‘Death Grips 2.0’ sounds like an alien having a seizure.
Save for the odd blemish, Jenny Death rounds off The Powers that B satisfactorily. It hits you like a punch in the face in the classic Death Grips manner. With the recent announcement of a world tour and a statement that they ‘might make more music’, it is highly unlikely that is the final helping of music that we will receive from Death Grips. But even if it is, Jenny Death succeeds in transmitting their phenomenally rasping and original style.
By Adan Bielenberg.