Audio Bullys

Ego War

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Though hooligan house duo Audio Bullys snatched bits and pieces from several different British dance acts (Basement Jaxx, the Streets, Underworld, Plump DJs), the pair's debut, Ego War, is a solid LP of mix-and-match house. While neither as energetic or immediate as the Streets and Basement Jaxx, Audio Bullys definitely know their way around a great production and a can't-miss hook. Tracks from producer Tom Dinsdale are insanely catchy, grabbing from hip-hop, dub, house, and a bit of British garage (the aesthetic, if not always the sound). Vocalist Simon Franks alternates monotoned raps and sung choruses, an effect midway from one of the more nihilistic gangsters in a Guy Ritchie film to the disarmingly conversational Mike Skinner (from the Streets). Unlike Skinner, though, his rhymes and delivery are definitely from a previous era in British rap, and not in a good way. (A pair of examples: "From the edge of the land, who's that man/doing things that you can't understand" and "Feel the friction burns, as we learn to take turns/now listen to my terms, 'cause every single worm in the world gotta turn/we're leaving you third-degree burns, as the wheel of fortune turns.") The productions usually overwhelm the trifling lyrical concerns: big, brash, and obvious, "We Don't Care" is slightly contrived in its don't-give-a-f*ck attitude and hoodlum rants, but "100 Million," "Way Too Long," and "Ego War" are masterful assemblages -- squelching synthesizers providing the melody and hi-hat-heavy percussion lines lending all the swagger these tracks need. Like the best in commercial dance, Audio Bullys are excellent, distinctive producers, though their songwriting isn't in the same category.

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