Asian Dub Foundation

Enemy of the Enemy

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Enemy of the Enemy certainly isn't Asian Dub Foundation's strongest effort. While the band has created wonderfully bombastic and soaring sonic confections in the past, they drop the ball repeatedly here, struggling to find interesting melodies or a political stance with weight. One can't fault the Foundation for trying to keep pace with the U.K. music scene; indeed, the lo-fi production of the Streets is stamped all over the album as an inspiration. But mixing such moody copy-and-paste samples with Public Enemy-like ferocity amounts to a kind of musical sludge that never truly takes off. Really only four tracks stand out. "1000 Mirrors" sees guest vocalist Sinéad O'Connor offering up the most confident vocals she's sung in years. O'Connor's voice feverishly details oppression as her cohorts settle into a sticky, moody dub groove. This virtual Celtic Dub Foundation makes for fascinating listening. It's the kind of mesmerizing result one had hoped for from Massive Attack's 100th Window, where O'Connor tackled similar themes and genres. "Fortress Europe," "Rise to the Challenge," and "Basta" are the album's other clear winners. Here the band assaults, innovates, and explores melody, blending drum'n'bass, reggae vibes, and exotic instrumentation toward a catchy goal. But it seems like every other track is either unfinished, rushed, or just in place as filler. Weak vocals, clichéd lyrics, poor sequencing, and overall studio sloppiness make for sub-par songs that work more like background noise than anything the band has released in the past. Comparing the album to similar genre experiments from bands like Leftfield sees Asian Dub Foundation falling somewhat behind. While Enemy of the Enemy has its bright spots, it's definitely a below-average release from a band who's shown more imagination and had more relevance on previous albums.

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