The 'Prankster Green' image is getting old
It’s easy to understand the appeal of Professor Green, the gobby class clown who’s always disrupting lessons with a crude comment. Problem is, he could really do with some fresher jokes, and his second album doesn’t exactly put its best wit forward. The title track, in the tradition of Eminem’s ‘Without Me’, finds Green’s voice sounding more goblin-like than ever, drawing a cock on the blank page of propriety with lines like “Soon as I finished calling this bulimic a fat bitch” and “I just had a shit and now I can’t find any loo roll”. The crunkish lurch of ‘DPMO’ adopts a similarly tiresome tack, but as disses go, “maybe I’ll cover my naked body in sticky tape and run through All Saints and come out doing my JLS impression” is hardly a keeper.
As well as Prankster Green, though, there’s a newly neurotic and confessional, Kid Cudi-ish side, struggling with self-worth. Given its subject matter, ‘Read All About It’, a cathartic, ‘Love The Way You Lie’ epic analysis of tabloid intrusion and his father’s suicide, can hardly help but be powerful. Less compelling are the likes of ‘Doll’, ‘Today I Cried’ and ‘Spinning Out’, Green’s reworking of Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’. No matter how disorientating sudden fame and the promotional whirl definitely are, they just don’t make for an interesting listen, as Green’s painfully aware of as he protests on ‘Doll’, “It wasn’t money that changed me, it was lack of sleep… I still have good days and bad days… my good days are probably better than yours though”. On ‘Today I Cried’ he begins “so sick and tired of this bullshit”, over mournful acoustic strums and a slow-clap beat. He’s talking about his pre-fame life, but the new one aint much better. “Sick of hearing how happy I should be… I just don’t know how to be”. He sounds tired, narky, depressed and frankly, like he needs a good sleep, a bowl of soup and a hug.
He’s a lot better when he’s not struggling so hard; effortless and cheeky sit a lot better on him than fractious and sorry-for-himself. The fresh-faced electro-dance of ‘Remedy’ is pretty brilliant, as is the no-flies-on-me drum’n’bass pop of ‘Trouble’. And while ‘Avalon’, basically his take on BoB and Hayley Williams’ ‘Airplanes’ with Sierra Kusterbeck of Florida emo-rockers VersaEmerge in the Hayley role, is a little shlocky, you can’t deny it’s anthemic.
If he wasn’t constantly striving to be a dick or be dark, Green would be annoyingly lovable. While it’s sometimes hateful and sometimes hate-filled, ‘At Your Inconvenience’ is rarely boring. Perhaps he just needs a holiday so he can come back less hung up on flushing life’s head down the toilet and just y’know, play nice.