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POS - Never Better

POS, Never Better

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

MINNEAPOLIS punk-rap artist P.O.S. is never one to do things by half measures. His music combines the raw, brash energy of punk rock with the biting social commentary and directness of rap and hip-hop. The resulting mix is as loud and volatile as you might expect.

Never Better, his latest LP, suggests by its very name that POS has attained a new level of confidence. But while certainly designed to grab your attention, it sometimes struggles to keep it.

Hip-hop purists may lament the inclusion of such abrasive rock; rockers may shake their heads in bewilderment at the notion of a rapper attempting to crash their party. But fans of mash-ups like Linkin Park and Jay-Z will certainly know the fusion can work… and does when POS gets it right.

With further production on the record coming from Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger & MK Larada and guest spots from The Bled and Jason Shevchuk [None More Black/Kid Dynamite], Never Better does – like its PR suggest – enter the room like a bombshell. It’s self-consciously badass, noisy, and full speed ahead.

Feedback and relentless drum rolls are only occasionally tempered by sung choruses and clean, chiming guitar lines. But then POS did write most of the songs in a moving car.

Album opener and highlight Let It Rattle sets the template, with political potshots jostling for position with astute social observations and a confrontational approach that’s brilliant for grabbing your complete attention. The mix of hip hop beats and rocky, distorted guitars is pretty darn exciting.

Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty) is similarly super-charged and ferociously punk-rock in outlook, while there’s scratching aplenty and an insistent beat on the more hip-hop orientated Savion Glover, another favourite which really does showcase POS’ vocal dexterity.

It’s a long album lasting more than 55 minutes, and encompassing some 15 tracks. But its themes are relevant and attention-grabbing, from age-old observations on love, break-up and growing up, to political asides at the expense of war, poverty, climate, recession, etc. POS has plenty to say and there are times when he’s expert enough to bridge genres.

Purexed, Goodbye and Low Light Low Life are particularly good examples of this, where the hip hop elements are brought to the fore and given a more party-style vibe, while Terrorish screams anguish (sometimes literally) and succeeds in grabbing your brains as well as your balls.

But when all’s said and done, POS still feels like an acquired taste. He’s notable for being one of the few hip hop performers willing to bring something new to the genre, and who doesn’t conform to stereotypes in his lyrics, as well as being a fierce proponent of punk-rap. But as notable, and noteworthy, as this approach makes him, it may also prove a little restrictive.

For those willing to diversify themselves, there’s plenty to reward.

Download picks: Let It Rattle, Savion Glover, Low Light Low Life, Goodbye, Never Better

Track listing:

  1. Let It Rattle
  2. Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)
  3. Savion Glover
  4. Purexed
  5. Graves (We Wrote The Book)
  6. Goodbye
  7. Get Smokes
  8. Been Afraid
  9. Low Light Low Life
  10. The Basics (Alright)
  11. Out Of Category
  12. Optimist (We Are Not For Them)
  13. Terrorish
  14. Never Better
  15. The Brave And The Snake