With Generation, Audio Bullys only exacerbate the comparisons that dogged their 2003 debut, Ego War. Tom Dinsdale and Simon Franks sport a clean, ultra-modern sound that's post-Streets, post-Jaxx, post -Guy Ritchie. But they rarely go further than referentialism, and this means Generation is pretty unoriginal in its pirate material. There's a resigned roguishness about "Keep on Moving," "Eq-ing," and "Struck by the Sound" -- the raps are about back in the day when geezers wore Stone Island and rolled birds down the corner, contrasted to a fantasy present when everyone's loading pistols for an inevitable gunfight. The soundtrack to that shootout? "Shot You Down," which cuts up Nancy Sinatra for a stylized house tribute to thuggery complete with dubbed-in gunshots and swirling breaks tailored for slow-motion death scenes. Generation isn't the only record made in this style; Fun Lovin' Criminals have made a career of it. But like that group, Audio Bullys revel too much in superficiality. Generation moves along at a decent clip, and its dub and house-inspired rhythms have some trashy zing to them. But it all sounds forced, or worse, contrived. "Get Myself on Track" is an obvious Streets play, complete with introspection and a plaintive keyboard melody, but it has none of Mike Skinner's humility or eye for detail. "Fulfill your dreams/Keep up the schemes/You've got your family/You've got your teams...I need to make myself a plan/'Cause I don't want to end up an angry man...." OK. The Bullys latch on to a slinky disco beat with "Take You There," but it doesn't really take listeners anywhere. And other tracks -- "I'm in Love," "Rock Till I'm Rollin'" -- are little more than droll repetition of the stunningly obvious title line over similarly recycled beats. Audio Bullys may hear the echo of gunshots, the memories of their thug life lived. But Generation's toughness rings hollow like a rerun.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
feat: Nancy Sinatra
feat: Roots Manuva