Could there possibly be a better matchup of band and label than Innerpartysystem’s signing to Red Bull’s music imprint? The band is the aural equivalent of an energy drink, rarely slowing down to catch a breath, never pausing to reflect on what was or could be. To this point, Innerpartysystem has been a brash band, almost thuggish, defiantly living in the now in a way nearly as appealing as it is off-putting.
Never Be Content seems, at least for a while, intent on breaking this conception of the band. For two tracks, the vocals are scaled back to minimal contributions from Patrick Nissley, allowing the focus to be on the harsh but extremely dance-friendly electronics. It’s a bit like Daft Punk if they were actually punk, with lots of vocoder disguising the few vocals that exist and a keen sense of when space will be more effective than added noise. Unfortunately, once lead single “American Trash” kicks in with its sub-Reznor clichés damning the no good dirty disgusting American, things fall off a cliff. “Out of Touch” carries a weird ‘80s-era Depeche Mode vibe, while “Squid” is a comparatively low-key synth workout that closes the album. The lone bright spot on the back half is the eight-minute “Not Getting Any Better”, whose length allows for some neat electronic tricks and an appealing, slowly-evolving beat.
The programming, in fact, is the consistent bright spot throughout Never Be Content, certainly putting it a step above previous efforts. Still, Nissley is somehow going to have to find a way to dial back on the trite, predictable angst if this band is ever going to be the party that its members intend it to be.
// Notes from the Road
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