Beastie Boys – ‘Hot Sauce Committee Part Two’

(album, Capitol)

It appears that time and longevity have afforded the Beasties something akin to (inter)national treasure status – the hearty partying potty-mouthed White Castle gormandizers of the mid-1980s having spent the last quarter century morphing in and out of genres and the popular consciousness, to finally arrive at the point where this, their eighth studio album has been almost universally greeted by critics with warm affection.

Which is nice, but although it’s good to see that Adam Yauch has apparently overcome his cancer scare and any new Beasties output is always welcome, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Part One now being ‘indefinitely’ placed on hold) sounds a lot like an epitaph. Much of the album, from its functional sleeve design onward, seems perfunctory. While it’s not a bad album, there’s nothing hear that contains any of the innovation and verve to be found on Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, or Ill Communication. Indeed, it is the fact that so much of the disc traverses old ground that gives it the aspect of being some kind of sign-off.

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Aside from the fact that we really have no need to ever again hear Ad-Rock start a rap by telling us who he is, much of Hot Sauce Committee leaves one wondering whether the trio are now too old to enjoy the partay that they are making such hard work of getting started here. Much of the blame for this sense of torpor comes from the vocal interplay, which too often drags where it used to fizzle, and within those lines, the boys ain’t sayin’ nuttin’ that they haven’t told us before. The Beasties should also take cabinet responsibility for a lacklustre production, much of which gives the impression that the album was recorded inside some manner of deadening, concrete bunker.

That said, several of the tracks have enjoyable elements that supply a teasing hint that this whole thing might actually be about to take off – the otherwise leaden ‘Make Some Noise’ is enlivened by some chewy retrofuturistic keyboard jazzisms, ‘Too Many Rappers’ emerges as a nasty instrumental broth that is soured by its torpid vocals, and the pedestrian ‘Long Burn The Fire’ includes a few engaging breaks. Sadly, much of the rest of Hot Sauce is brewed from underdeveloped material such as ‘Here’s A Little Something For Ya’, which is reminiscent of the kind of number that would have been, at best, a bridging track on one of the trio’s better albums.

Although ‘Tadlock’s Glasses’ seems to indicate that ‘rockin’ non-stop’ for extended periods has left the band burned out, only the unimaginative faux ska of ‘Don’t Play No Game’ and ‘Crazy Ass Shit’ (which, although poor, isn’t actually shit, nor is it crazy and, there’s no ass anywhere to be seen) can actually be described as genuinely bad songs. Dispensable filler such as ‘The Bill Harper Connection’ and ‘The Larry Routine’ are what they are, and while the band too often seem to be enjoying an in-joke with their past selves (who even remembers or cares about the mid-80s pop outfit referenced in ‘The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine’), it can be reasonably argued that this kind of self-indulgent thread has previously expanded into some decent material.

 ‘OK’ shows the beasties mining their classic old school references points to greater effect, emerging as a genuinely funky/fresh cybertronic throwdown, and although there’s still some weariness in the vocal delivery, the track represents one of the album’s two high points. The second of which is the gloriously titled ‘Lee Majors Come Again’, a glorious, bass-led organic melange, suffused with genuine vocal energy that transcends the Beastie’s shaky punk roots (they were a lousy punk band).

Ultimately, however, this is a disc that is too often flawed by tracks like the metronomic exercise in understated dullness ‘Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament’, and gives too much impression as being put together by an increasingly moribund group that are content to reference their past. There’s a point at which the Beasties-being-the-Beasties becomes contrived and unconvincing, and it’s marked by Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Then again, it may be premature to write them off entirely – they’ve come back before.

Originally posted 2011-06-16 07:38:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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