Music

Audio Bullys: Higher Than the Eiffel

Higher Than the Eiffel's bone-headedness is probably a benefit, recklessly cajoling us into enjoying ourselves.


Audio Bullys

Higher Than the Eiffel

Label: The End
US Release Date: 2011-01-18
UK Release Date: 2010-03-29
Amazon
iTunes

Audio Bullys released their debut album, Ego War, in mid-2003. Prior to this, they released a mix that was given away free with the now sadly defunct Muzik magazine. It was entitled Hooligan House: The Sound of 2003. We might now be pushing a decade on, but that description still holds up very well. Audio Bullys have constructed an entire career out of making rough, ham-fisted tracks to soundtrack the bashing of bus-stops, telephone boxes, and People Who Look at You Funny. Balls-to-the-wall bangers like "Hit the Ceiling" and "Shot You Down" prove that they have never pretended to be artistes. After all, who needs artistry when nightspots from Kingston-upon-Thames to Kavos are prepared to play your tunes on repeat for entire, seemingly endless, summers? Their lowest-common-denominator take on beat poetry is certainly hard to resist. It’s an even harder formula to argue with because it would have no trouble with giving you a punch in the jaw for your troubles.

Higher Than the Eiffel sees Audio Bullys continuing to commit to that formula, lurching from the massive aggressive ("Feel Alright", "London Dreamer") to lairy despair ("Dynamite", "Drained Out", "Dragging Me Down"). They haven’t grown up very much either, and they seem content to steal from the pick n’ mix and to get public order offences. Thus, they seem destined to live forever off the proceeds of 2005 single "Shot You Down", trudging on long after the one hit wonder lustre has faded. Higher Than the Eiffel’s real standout, "Shotgun", even sees them squeezing all they can get out of gun metaphors. This track, along with the rest of the album, keeps the basic aesthetic of their earlier material intact, but much of its commercial potential has gone, and they never honestly look like they will capitalise on it.

Indeed, Higher Than the Eiffel was released almost a year ago in the UK, and its lack of impact over here testifies to this. Nevertheless, the band stick to what they know, and to what their fans love: big, dumb, house beats with drunken soundbites shouted over the top. It remains a winning combination, sure, but we’ve heard it a million times before, and only touches of dub, northern soul, and an end-of-the-pier Wurlitzer on closer "Goodbye" hint at variety or musical maturation.

The problem here isn’t even that this album reactionary, refusing to look forward in order to relive an era of house music before the internet -- before hyper-hybrid genre clashes and flexible consumption. No, it’s simply that we are living through a highly fertile period of musical innovation. Post-Dilla cinematics and post-dubstep architectonics are the two most obvious examples of this, and as a result of these developments, we expect just that little bit more from our producers than nifty sampling pasted over a 4/4 thump.

"Feel Alright" is the March of the Geezers, narrated by an imaginary, obnoxious nephew of Paul Weller. "Daisy Chains", meanwhile, is a laboured ode to being high. It’s too try-hard, too adolescent, and it evokes an experience that is neither lush and psychedelic, nor jittering and paranoid – the twin peaks of the phenomenology of intoxication. Instead, it’s garish and rowdy, an unschooled struggle to paste Lupe Fiasco’s "Daydreaming" over "Yellow Submarine".

Vocalist Simon Franks is no Mike Skinner. He’s no Shaun Ryder either. Consequently, his attempts to play the post-party sage pale in comparison to those tracks where the focus is on the dance-floor. And it’s certainly true that Higher Than The Eiffel contains some sizable club bangers like "Shotgun", "Only Man", and the drop-cum-chorus of "Smiling Faces". Each track spills dizzying drunken power over thumping house, each a perfectly cretinous weekend mash-up.

Sadly, Higher Than the Eiffel’s redeeming features can’t prevent it from being utterly meaningless. Nevertheless, its bone-headedness is probably a benefit, recklessly cajoling us into enjoying ourselves. This is a house-party that plays banging tunes, sure, but it would be rude and dangerous to look like you’re not having a good time, or to leave early. Perhaps, then, the best advice would be to pinch a brewsky and to get involved.

4


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.