Death Grips – Jenny Death

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Michael Frett

Three years ago, Death Grips released technophobic paranoia on the world with a schizoid trip to The Money Store. Two years ago, they pulled a Beyoncé before it was even popular to pull a Beyoncé and released the hyperactive Government Plates out of nowhere while skipping out on festival shows because why-the-fuck-not? Last year, they debuted the first half of The Powers That B and wrote their own obituary on a napkin. Today, we now know how non-binding napkins truly are.

Jenny Death is a left hook out of the mire, a confusingly drab place of instrumentals and Björk samples. First and foremost, Death Grips’ eccentric centerpiece finally returned; MC Ride is back from a world of samples, kicking Jenny Death’s ass into gear with the kind of ‘roid-raging – uh, slogans? – that gave Death Grips so much chutzpa back in the day.

He spazzes into the microphone, telling us about his favorite color (it’s “oh my god, bitch!”) and giving the mirror-hating masses a cause (to break mirrors on your face in the United States!). Are some of his primal battle cries unnervingly dumb? Yeah! But if you’re looking for Death Grips to enlighten your conscious, you might have taken a… no, even the most enlightened minds need to have it twisted with sweat-drenched, technophobic rage.

Jenny Death, though dripping with unbridled fury, is far from perfect. Death Grips, whether they like it or not, have become their own trope. To hammer and grind beats into an industrial mush while someone furiously spins a madman’s stream of conscious is Death Grips 101. And, while it can sometimes feel like a fluid shot of adrenaline, like “Inanimate Sensation’s” roaring buildups, other times it’s just forgettable. In fact, most of Jenny Death is a raucous sprint; you’ll be wrapping up in “Death Grips 2.0’s” dry scuzzle before you know it.

There’s some stirring shots taken through Jenny Death, though. Strung together like the finer moments on Money Store are tracks like “Centuries of Damn,” whose exotic production ties together MC Ride’s revivalist ramblings with a Saharan bow. Then there’s “On GP,” which sports a chugging guitar riff that blatantly draws that implied line linking Death Grips to its hardcore roots.

There’s a soul to Jenny Death somewhere. It’s pissed, and it wants to let us all know that it’s pissed. Resigning on a napkin? Fuck that. Break that. Like a mirror. On your face. Just keep going forward, through the fading dips and regurgitating guitars (who are mostly new to this scene). Feel that inanimate sensation and hear the arguments “on GP.” Jenny Death mumbles through some of its distorted, chainsaw fury, but that doesn’t keep its highs from reminding the world that Death Grips still has mirrors to break and shit to burn.

7/11

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There are only ten words that explain Jenny Death, Death Grips’ newest album: “I break mirrors with my face in the United States.” If this statement seems too crazy and bizarre, then this album probably isn’t for you. It’s not really for anyone really. It takes an abnormal person to create this powerful album and an even more abnormal person to review it. Sadly, I didn’t have any cocaine laying around to enjoy this album the way it seems to have been intended, but I did my best to unpack this beast. So let’s get this party started.

On every track it seems that their vocalist, Stefan Burnet (better known as MC Ride), is just spitting nonsensical gibberish over heavy base, some wonky keyboards and an electronic beat. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; quite the opposite, it makes the album more fun to listen to because it’s so out there and different. Just listen to the song “The Powers that B.” You can’t really understand the vocals but they’re executed in such a powerful way and are so infectious that you can’t help but be entertained.  Death Grips do the whole, crazy Daft Punk-meets-rap schtick really well. They have an intermingling of rock, electronic and hip hop that’s refreshing to listen to, but is also quite draining because it’s not the easiest thing to listen to. That’s really the only thing I can say against this album: that it isn’t an easy one to listen to over and over again because of its intensity. That and I don’t like nosebleeds from rocking out too hard.

The production throughout the whole album is sensational. Every part of the album comes together to create quite a show of driving bass, mysterious keyboards and intense drums that create an anarchy that’s just fun to listen to. They’re able to pack in fast paced songs all over the place, slow it down in places – notably in “Pss Pss” – and transition back again so seamlessly. As a whole the album gives you exactly what you’d want out of an electronic hip hop album jacked up on steroids, LSD and cocaine.

9/11

Jenny Death is a part of The Powers That B, out now on Harvest Records.