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Album review: Hadouken! - For The Masses (Surface Noise)

The death throes of the new rave party are far from pretty...

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3 / 10 They weren’t joking. Who knew? When they climaxed early single ‘Liquid Lives’ with the refrain “Drink! Smoke! Fuck! Fight!”, everyone imagined Hadouken! were doing so with a certain smirk. Wasn’t this an example of the wryness underpinning their take on teen life? Uh… no. The span of their ambition was best summarised by
the Douglas Coupland-copped title of their debut: ‘Music For An Accelerated Culture’. They wanted nothing less
than to define a new generation, and would stop at no bombastic cliché or moralising hectoring in pursuit of that.

With ‘For The Masses’ our worst fears are confirmed by the track titles: ‘Ugly’, ‘Lost’, ‘Evil’ – vague, big-concept words that remind us to set faces to po. Of course, ‘grindie’ has long fallen off the zeitgeist radar, and the fluoro H! T-shirts of 2007 don’t fit their fans any more, so why should they care about this return?

Fortunately for him, the other side of James Smith’s personality – the one in thrall to The Prodigy/Pendulum – is presently enjoying a comeback. So he’s hooked up with Dutch drum’n’bass producers NOISIA to make an educationally subnormal ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ in an emotronica fright wig. It is of course consumed with its own importance. Within a minute of opener ‘Rebirth’ we have our first choir. ‘Turn The Lights Out’ advises us to “Make way for the ultraviolet teenage riot” and ‘Evil’ offers such big-picture insights as “We’re just people/we’re just persons living our life in a circle”.

Smith has evolved into the sort of lyricist who’s been set upon this earth to make Liam Gallagher look like he regularly does odes to Grecian urns. “Tell that to my face boy, I’m gonna fuck your face up” he spits on ‘Ugly’, before offering the immortal, “It’s getting ugly – ugly like your sister”. Just when you think they’ve already smithereened the silly barrier, what the world needs most swiftly turns up: Hadouken! go Auto-Tune (‘Lost’). The thinner the idea, the more Smith demands it be sung in a sub-Linkin Park over-emotive style, as though he’s in the throes of an aneurysm. By the end of ‘For The Masses’ you might well be wishing one on yourself just for sweet relief.

Gavin Haynes

What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.

Click here to get your copy of Hadouken!'s 'For The Masses' from the Rough Trade shop.

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