I think it’s easy to listen to GY!BE and think that all their albums sound (somewhat) the same. I get that at some level. (I think it’s wrong, but I get it.) Rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. The pattern of their compositions is certainly familiar even if the music within them is less repetitive that it might seem.
But that’s not what I hear on this record…at all. Rather, I hear GY!BE embracing sounds that they didn’t fully embrace on record (though they were definitely live). For example, on the title track they out-and-out embrace free jazz (not the actual genre, but sounds from it), something they’ve never done before, either with their own instruments or through samples.
I also hear the minimalism influence gaining more prominence, on “Bosses Hang” for example, and, again, I see that as a sign of growth, not stagnation.
And the lulls that are so important to their work are handled better here, more concisely, than they have been in some time, or perhaps better than ever before. This version of the band appears far more concerned with brevity (relatively speaking) than the version that produced those double albums and felt the need to include long samples of speeches and what have you. I think this is a good thing.
I haven’t listened to any of their records all the way through in some time – outside of the debut – just because I’ve been busy with other music but I am tempted to say this is their best record in a very long time. (That may require down-grading ratings of their more recent work if I’m serious about this, though…)
Honestly, GY!BE remains the best at what they do in the world and continue to pride new spins on that signature sound – this being perhaps the best example of that in 15 years.