Busdriver – Beaus$Eros

January 01, 1970

(Fake Four)




Busdriver, the LA-based MC
born Regan John Farquhar, has been one to respect genre barriers. A rapper
since his teens known for rapid-fire, super-literate lyrical flow, Busdriver
has reached well beyond the usual suspects of collaborators. He has worked with
experimental electronicists like Daedelus and Nobody, alternative hip hoppers
like Nocando, indie rockers like Islands Nick Thornburg (of Unicorns and Islands) and Deerhoof and punk rockers like the Mae Shi. Here,
on his 10th full-length, Busdriver works primarily with description Loden, but also Coco Rosie’s Sierra Cassady. His
music here strains the boundaries of even the most electronically adventurous
hip hop, tapping a vein of synthy, electro-pop tunefulness and multi-voiced
sung counterpoints.


Indeed, Busdriver hardly
raps at all on roughly half the album’s tracks, choosing instead to sing, or at
least, rhyme melodically, in tracks like “Utilitarian Uses of Love,” “Picking
Band Names” and the title track (pronounced, if you were wondering, like “bows
and arrows”). In these tunes, he puts on a show-y, circus barker’s cadence that
rolls and swaggers, and sounds more pop than hip hop. A playful, keyboard-heavy
instrumentation adds to the bright Dam-Funk-ish carnival aura, as do the
intricately arranged vocal parts, which sound sometimes like doo wop, at others
like complicated madrigal singing.  


The strongest tracks,
however, are the ones where Busdriver rhymes with the least adornment – the
stunning single “NoBlackNoJewsNoAsians” for instance, or the success-skewering
“Bon Bon Fire,” where Busdriver sideswipes a certain music festival (“At South By
you blew hundreds, but I ate like I had two stomachs”) and explains the
benefits of “acting awkward like Hugh Grant.” He’s so clever, so quick, so
unexpected and visceral on these tracks that you wonder why he’d choose to
croon and slur on a good half the album.  Still, even on the album’s least impactful cuts,
there’s a lot to listen to, a dense, woozy interplay of synthetic instruments
and slouchy rhythms, and the occasional arresting observation. “Kiss Me Back to
Life” could use a jolt of life itself, but nonetheless includes the line “I’m
more than a boyfriend, I’m a mistake to learn from.”


Beaus$Eros is an interesting experiment. Busdriver
is capable, obviously, in multiple genres, and has the restless, omnivorous
kind of creativity that sees links between disparate styles. Still, he’s a
really good rapper, too. How about some more of that next time?     


DOWNLOAD: “NoBlacksNoJewsNoAsians”, “Bon Bon

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