Taking a brief hiatus from his usual partner in crime, Dan Le Sac, socially conscious street poet David Meads, aka Scroobius Pip, has used his newfound freedom to pursue a more rock-oriented but equally no-holds-barred sound on his debut album, Distraction Pieces. With news stories providing a never-ending stream of inspiration, the London rapper is just as angry and no-nonsense as ever, as he attempts to hold the world bang to rights in his own unique, humorous, and thought-provoking manner. "Death of a Journalist" combines droning synths, spoken word samples, and beats borrowed from Jay-Z's "99 Problems" with satirical lyrics addressing the national news' over-reliance on the internet ("I do more research than them when I'm penning a verse"); "Soldier Boy (Kill ‘Em)" is a controversial diatribe against the role of the military ("if we're stopping tyrants, why the f*** aren't we in North Korea") set against a backdrop of minimal but aggressive percussion; while Steve Mason provides a Depeche Mode-goes-country production on the dissection of celebrity culture that is "The Struggle." The former Beta Band vocalist isn't the only star collaborator on a record which also includes Radio1 DJ Zane Lowe, XL founder Richard Russell, and Nine Inch Nails' Renholder, and it's this impressive roll call which ensures that Distraction Pieces is an entirely different beast from Pip's usual hip-hop fare, as evident on the crunching Led Zeppelin-esque riffs of "Try Dying," a satirical look on society's obsession with living as long as possible; the dirty, scuzzy riffs, clattering percussion, and nu-metal chorus of "Let Em Come," and the suitably ominous, plucked guitar hooks and contrasting child-like chanting of opener "Introdiction," whose effortlessly witty lines ("you see a mousetrap/I see free cheese and a f****** challenge") justify his comedic reputation. A dark, twitchy, and claustrophobic cover of Kate Bush's The Kick Inside album track "Feel It," featuring the ethereal vocals of newcomer Natasha Fox, perfectly, if rather unexpectedly, rounds up proceedings, but it's this left-field finale which leaves you longing for more than its rather slim nine tracks. Like his previous offerings, Distraction Pieces may be a little too aggressive, and perhaps a little too honest, for some, but it's undoubtedly a captivating listen which shows that Scroobius Pip is certainly capable of going it alone.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien