The Coup

Sorry to Bother You

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During the six years between Pick a Bigger Weapon and Sorry to Bother You, the Coup survived a disastrous bus crash. Leader Boots Riley aligned with Tom Morello as Street Sweeper Social Club, and he also toured with Galactic. More significantly, Riley became a driving force in the Occupy Oakland movement -- something that could have fueled an album's worth of ideas. Instead, Sorry to Bother You draws inspiration from Riley's past as a telemarketer. It's presented as a soundtrack to "a dark comedy with magical realism." There are enough guest stars joining Riley, Pam the Funkstress, Silk-E, studio comrade Damion Gallegos, and the band's instrumentalists to give it the feel of a funk-rap-rock opera. Lyrically, however, it's a typical Coup album in the best possible way. Riley's incisive, anti-capitalist rhymes and animated vocals are as energizing as ever, alternately intoxicating and sobering without wavering in force. Without being told, a longtime Coup fan wouldn't be able to discern the words' function as soundtrack material. Riley maintains hot-blooded realism and dips into slightly out-of-character fantasticism only for the oddball chamber agitprop of "We've Got a Lot to Teach You, Cassius Green." A change of approach is instantly detectable in the music, which is often closer to assaultive and muscular new wave than the laid-back, bottom-heavy synth funk that runs through Pick a Bigger Weapon. According to Riley, that's just the way it played out. It might take some time for older fans to adjust -- its punk energy aims for the calves more frequently than the neck -- but Sorry to Bother You contains some of the Coup's most vehement and focused output.

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