When listening to the Flobots debut album, Fight with Tools, there's a feeling that all the destruction and injustice this politically motivated alt rap crew speak of has been seen through CNN YouTube. There's a certain grit missing, a certain soul that comes from living the nightmare and surviving, and whether they've been through it or not, the Flobots just don't display it. Fight with Tools also feels like a college class project partly because it's so clean, but also because it's incredibly busy with ambition and new ideas overflowing as everything and the kitchen sink get thrown into the record. This youthful ambition and willingness to explore is also what makes the record special. The Denver crew enter by spitting out a Gil Scott-Heron by way of Def Poetry Jam bit of prose on the opening "There's a War Going on for Your Mind," offering surreal lines like "It's raining pornography/Lovers take shelter" over melancholy chamber music. That's the Flobots' real hook; they rap with a live band, and not the guitar, bass, drums beat combo you've seen before. It's all of the above and some strings, horns, and other things left over from the orchestra and marching band. This isn't as Kids from Fame as it sounds, since the Flobots do have a believablly stern pose, and if they aren't experienced, they are brilliantly educated and aware. Good points are made with skill and fine wordplay, the guitars and drums crunch along driving home the message with head-bobbing grooves, and then album opens up with the marvelous "Handlebars," a carefully crafted, slowly building tale of the ego run wild via some beautiful muted trumpet. It's a very Fort Minor moment, and sweet relief from all the pain and in-your-face politics, suggesting the Flobots could benefit from a little more restraint. Here, they've got so much to stay it's hardly worth considering. If the talented young bucks want to shout down the world as if they own the place, why curb their inspiring appetite for justice by asking for discipline and composure?
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries