Stakka and Sage Rider explore their Depeche Mode roots with this debut collaboration.
This one is a grower. I didn't care a great deal for the debut collaboration between poet and political activist Sage Rider and established producer Shaun "Stakka" Morrison the first time I heard it, but each listen reveals something a little deeper to hold on to. The instrumentals hit a similar electro-pop vein as Depeche Mode and Human League, only with a little more casual grit so as to grip your mind but still make you dance. "Wannabe Your" is one of the more straight-ahead numbers, with glitchy bass supporting pure rock guitar, pounding drums, and one of the most memorable choruses of the year. Angsty testosterone oozes from that one. The line "I will survive my will to be entertained" from "Better You Than Me" sticks with me, sympathetically supported by a downtempo beat, elegant piano, and a slight static. Sage's delivery is a little emo at times, but his lyrics are as sharp and precise as a Ginsu. Stakka has a production credit list a mile long, including some ace drum and bass made with Skynet, so his credentials are never in question. Your enjoyment falls on your feelings towards their British '80s synth-pop influences, tolerance of politically aware poetry, and demonstrating a little patience.