Oooof! Now here’s a line-up for you. Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio), Adam "Doseone" Drucker (Anticon, cLOUDDEAD), and Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas) have been working on the Nevermen project for a while apparently and within it each member taken on all roles creating an experimental and explorative setup. It’s as bizarre, head-noddingly catchy and nuts-with an experimental pop sensibility as you would expect.
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I’m just glad Tunde Adebimpe is doing something interesting. Considering the completely flat and flopping ‘Seeds’, it’s nice to hear the TV On The Radio frontman bolster himself with a totally new creative force, in this case combining elemental powers with Anticon hero Doseone and general other-people’s hero Mike Patton. This self-titled record proves Adebimpe and Doseone to be rather excellent fits: they’re both enthused performers with wonderfully unique voices, and the way they exchange them through this record, amongst avant-pop arrangements, is the kind of thing you could take minutes on.
Nevermen have sought to make something truly cinematic here: this record flows between its disparate parts as much as it can, straining to connect the tissue of the record without keeping it homogenous. The twinkling, nu-Disney ending of “Treat Em Right” is a lovely compliment to the haphazard song that’s stretched out before it. Ultimately, though, my favourite bits of this record are the moments of respite, when these three hyper-energetic artists chill out and let the bass walk, or let a piano melody involve itself, or let an instrumental passage have its day. When Doseone is rapping, the record loses some of its allure for me -- his style feels like it’s intervening on a record this ethereal, and the drum fills and scratchy melodies that make way for his voice feel like compromises. At the same time, these busier moments can make the hooks sing: the endless exchange of vocals on “Tough Towns” goes from grating to glorious in seconds, all because of a pretty, bell-chiming chorus.
The ambient passage of “Here On” suggests these dudes have been working with too many ideas, and while it might be one of my favourite tracks on the whole record, it also feels like it should exist on any other record. “At Your Service” calls back to ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’-era TvOTR with a distorted backdrop and a percussive mess combining into near-pop brilliance; again, though, it suddenly changes into the group exchanging brief raps on the level of Aesop Rock, before switching into an organ-bolstered outro.
There’s just so much, and not enough room: it’s the album equivalent of getting a Northern Rail train with only two carriages.
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