Alabama 3

Revolver Soul

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Revolver Soul is exactly the kind of album Alabama 3 should be doing seven records deep into their career -- not breaking the mold, but delving deeper into their trademark sound while trimming the filler and unnecessary fooling around that plagued even their best work. The core is intact -- hip-hop and dance beats are intermingled with Southern grooves, Reverend Larry Love drones like the most relaxed preacher of the Apocalypse ever, and it's gospel choirs all around. Compared to their own classics, Revolver Soul is more steeped in electronica, stretching robotic synthesizer textures over their beats and croons to produce some warped variation of soul industrial on tracks like "Bad to the Bone" instead of the regular techno-blues-funk mash-up, though there's enough of that on the record, too. Dabbling in hellish synth pop could have been an easy way to cover for lack of rhymes and grooves, but A3 lack neither here, and the poppy keyboards are used to emphasize their own sound, not produce a surrogate -- the group still offers the same unique mix of chill and venom, just does it in a more streamlined, immediate fashion. But the arrangements are as stylistically dense as ever, and it's telling that even "Fix It," recorded with king of Irish alcohol-fueled folk-punk, Shane MacGowan, sounds no less an A3 song than the rest of the tunes on the album, which generally plays like a set of Everlast remixes with monstrous hooks. Revolver Soul does not feel as fundamental as La Peste or Exile on Coldharbour Lane (though not for lack of trying), but it's more focused than either of those, and catchy from start to finish -- what's more to ask?

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