Thursday, November 07, 2013

Luscious Jackson: "Magic Hour" (album review)

It's been fourteen years since we heard new music from Luscious Jackson.  Two thirds of the Beastie Boys-approved female indie hip hop act have now returned with their crowd-funded album Magic Hour.

The amazing thing is that the group's sound hasn't changed that much.  However, there's such a dearth of this smart, funky female hip hop-infused music nowadays that songs like "You and Me" sound incredibly fresh despite being built on a 20-year old platform.

Even back in the day Luscious Jackson stood out among the hip hop or R&B communities.  In fact, they probably don't even belong to be categorized as that, but there's not really a more convenient label.  They always paid more attention to melody and grooves than their contemporaries.  That difference is even more pronounced now as hip hop has devolved into a mess of disjointed sounds and unimaginative samples layered atop annoying beats (see. Rhianna).

Contrast that ghastly noise to the slick ear-candy of a deeply compelling, smooth-flowing cut like "Frequency" and Luscious Jackson wins out every time.  "#1 Bum" and the head-bopping "Show Us What You Got" reinforce that impression.

A smooth yet slightly experimental jazz vibe comes through on "Aaw Turn It Up!".  The band has always had a sultry alluring side, that shines through on "So Rock On".  The party is in full swing as soon as the opening beats of "Are You Ready?" kick in.

The kids of today really don't know how shitty they have it.  The return of Luscious Jackson should drive that home.

Best tracks: "Frequency", "Show Us What You Got"

Track listing for Magic Hour:
  • You and Me
  • #1 Bum
  • Show Us What You Got
  • Are You Ready?
  • Aaw Turn It Up!
  • So Rock On
  • Love Is Alive
  • We Go Back
  • Frequency
  • 3 Seconds To Cross

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