So… How’s Your Girl?

So... How's Your Girl?

Score

They look like escapees from a Fun Lovin' Criminals masterclass: fat collars, fake 'taches, cigars the size of baby arms, ostentatious cocktails ...

They look like escapees from a [a]Fun Lovin’ Criminals[/a] masterclass: fat collars, fake ‘taches, cigars the size of baby arms, ostentatious cocktails. With olives. As pin-up boys, they make great musicians. At a real Handsome Boy Modelling School, our two heroes would never have passed the entrance exam.

No matter. What we have here is a wise-ass concept album, complete with a huge roll-call of guest stars and attendant in-jokes, that actually [I]works[/I]. Ostensibly the dream of glamorous clothes-horses Nathaniel Merriweather and Chest Rockwell, ‘So… How’s Your Girl?‘ is in reality the long-promised vanity project of eccentric genius hip-hop producers DanThe AutomatorNakamura and Prince Paul.

And if UNKLE‘s wretched ‘Psyence Fiction‘ hadn’t been hamstrung by portent, James Lavelle‘s ‘proper’ rock aspirations and British icons awkwardly sparring with DJ Shadow, it might’ve sounded like this. Indeed, Shadow himself (on the fantastic breakbeat thrasher ‘Holy Calamity‘) and Mike D reappear here. But there’s little pretension to Handsome Boy and a backbone of pure hip-hop skill that no amount of freaking around can break.

A succession of rappers -; notably Paul’s De La Soul chum Trugoy and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien -; get dropped down deep wells for that spacey, dislocated feel familiar from The Automator‘s work with Kool Keith, before the climactic ‘Megaton B-Boy 2000‘ sees El Farolito of Company Flow distorted to high heaven by Alec Empire. More placidly, there’s even a couple of flakey blues that work hard to give trip-hop a good name, featuring Money Mark, Roisin out of Moloko and the redoubtable Sean Lennon who, one is forced to conclude, must be a really nice bloke. Oh, and a telephone message from Biz Markie, inevitably.

So… How’s Your Girl?’ is precision-tooled to amuse the Beastie Boys, for sure. But it also harbours a wit and dexterity that not only represents the usual cliquey extended family, but also manages to transcend them. And, bizarrely for what’s ostensibly hip-hop, the exigencies of the male ego are ridiculed far more than they’re exaggerated. More bozo than braggadocio: really, these guys are [I]beautiful[/I].