Album review

Audio Bullys : Ego War

Audio Bullys : Ego WarMore often than not when a band announces their eclectic influences you know it's bullshit. If they really spent their formative years listening to Captain Beefheart and The Clash then why do they sound like a cross between The Charlatans and Oasis? Of course there are exceptions, and Audio Bullys are one of them.
    The Specials were the obvious reference point for breakthrough single We Don't Care; Simon Franks' yobbish 'come an' have a go if you think you're hard enough' vocals sounding spookily similar to Terry Hall on Too Much Too Young. It's not until your hear Turned Away that you realise that not only have Simon and co-Bully Tom Dinsdale listened to The Specials, but they've understood them. Turned Away echoes Ghost Town's story of urban decay perfectly.
    The ska-lite rhythms of The Police are in there too, as is a twisted sample of Elvis Costello's (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea on Way Too Long. Don't get the idea that Audio Bullys are peddling some sort of 70s/80s pop pastiche though, as disc-spinner Dinsdale has obviously spent way too much time immersed in London's jungle and house scenes. This clash of the old and the new has resulted in a unique and refreshing sound.

At the core, Audio Bullys are essentially a dance/rap hybrid, so the other influences are the vocal ones. The duo would cite Notorious B.I.G. and Method Man, but the obvious London accent and street level wheelin' an' dealin' lyrical themes can't help but remind me of Mike Skinner, otherwise known as The Streets. That's no problem though, as The Streets' debut was both innovative and enjoyable, as is Ego War.
    "Packet of Bens an' a bag of tens, it's a suburban ego war," sings Franks on the album closing title track. It's time to pick sides.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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