Death Grips – Fashion Week (Album Review)

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Even though Death Grips broke up around 5 or 6 months ago, they’re still packing surprises and probably have a bigger fanbase than ever before. This is due to the unpredictable nature of the them and the meme-type hype that surrounds the second half of their “last ever album” ‘Jenny Death’. This entirely instrumental album serves as the latest ‘clue’ in the series of hints as to when the album will be coming out. Every track on this album is entitled ‘Runway’ followed by a letter – the actual track list spells out the words ‘JENNY DEATH WHEN’. This naturally sent their fans into a frenzy, as it is now believed that it will be released sometime around ‘Fashion Week’. Why else would that be the name of this album?

All of this hype around the release date for ‘Jenny Death’ has kind of taken away from what they’ve actually released – a 14 track instrumental album that makes lots of references musically to past moments in their short but amazingly fruitful time as a band, as well as painting a picture of where they’re at now. Having MC Ride as a frontman can often put a lot of people off of Death Grips due to his hyperactive screaming and yelling causing some to argue all the music does is create shock value. Having a complete absence of MC Ride on here and allowing Flatlander and Zach Hill more screen time definitely shows how there’s so much more to their music. I wouldn’t be surprised if these tracks are just instrumentals that they’ve built over their career that didn’t fit into the sound they were going for at the time that they decided to throw together.

This record has so many different sounds and styles thrown together it’s remarkable that it somehow manages to sound so distinctively DG and very coherent at the same time. The first track ‘Runway J’ is so over the top and in your face with a sound that’s so upbeat and non-violent (For Death Grips) that you can actually picture someone strutting their stuff to this on a runway. Many of the tracks on here feature the return of the Zach Hill sounding like he’s genuinely smashing the sh*t out of his drums instead of having those more synthetic drum sounds they’ve been going for recently. The drums are best featured on the song ‘Runway E (1)’ where it sounds like a mix between some of the crazy looping we heard on ‘Niggas On The Moon’ mixed with a lot of the aggression from previous albums like ‘No Love Deep Web’. The song ‘Runway N (2)’ almost sounds like some sort of straight forward punk-rock song but instead of guitars we have these compressed and distorted to hell synths that run through with quite a steady rhythm for Death Grips; but then thinking about it Death Grips’ music has always punk, it just feels like they’re embracing it on this track.

Death Grips have gone for a sound not heard on a lot of their other stuff too, and it’s not hard to imagine why. ‘Runway N (1)’ and ‘Runway T’ both have a sound that borrows quite a bit from Vaporwave and it’s almost to impossible MC Ride yelling over the top of it. The latter of the two tracks almost has these synthscapes that you could almost get lost in while the former of the two is spear-headed by an organ(?) piece that although is nothing like Death Grips have done before, is so obnoxious that it couldn’t be anyone else. ‘Runway D’ has them enhancing the use of these synths and adding in some percussion that could be influenced by world music as it sounds very sparse.

Nothing speaks more volumes on this album than the track ‘Runway H (2)’, as this track is the best example of their progression as a band while essentially changing nothing in the way they approach their music. This track features the use of some heavy sampling used in similar way to how they used it on their mixtape ‘Exmilitary’ but rather than making the samples sound twisted, this song is the most uplifting piece of music Death Grips have ever done. Even when playing over Zach Hill’s frantic drums it’s nowhere near as intimidating as their previous material and even sounds like a dance-punk song LCD Soundsystem would do at times.

Death Grips have proved with this album that even when they take massive leaps away from their usual sound in many ways, they’ll still always sound distinctively them, even when making their least Hip-Hop album to date like this. They have crafted a style that allows them to do whatever the hell they want and it’ll still sound like them. In many ways this album sounds like a promising future for Death Grips rather than the sound of a band who are releasing the last of their material; as it stands they have one of the most impressive discographies from a band in this half decade and it would be a damn shame for them to stop.

8/10

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