Death Grips – ‘Jenny Death’

The Sacramento noise-core trio return from a split with their most accessible album to date

Trying to figure out Death Grips’ agenda is a thankless task. Since announcing their split with a note on a paper napkin last summer, they’ve been more active than a vat of mouldy yoghurt. As well as recording ‘Jenny Death’, which makes up the second half of their ‘The Powers That B’ double album following 2014’s Björk-sampling ‘Niggas On The Moon’, the Sacramento noise-core trio (drummer Zach Hill, producer Andy Morin and MC Ride) have released January’s instrumental ‘Fashion Week’ collection (the track titles of which spelled out the message ‘JENNYDEATHWHEN’), filmed a number of music videos and announced the North American dates of a world tour.

Following their inception five years ago, Death Grips’ game has been to confuse and confound, to make their actions just as frustrating and impenetrable as their music. Yet with ‘Jenny Death’, they’ve made their most accessible album to date. Ten four-minute offerings of chart-friendly melodies and pre-watershed lyricism it is most definitely not, but within the glut of ideas buzzing around this densely packed record are tracks that could legitimately be described as songs, rather than just relentless noise attacks. Of course, brutality remains, but there’s a newfound concession to convention here. Opener ‘I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States’ is the kind of digi-assault course that The Prodigy would build, with MC Ride channeling his inner nihilist, yelling “I don’t care about real life” over shards of shuddering bass and retro Sega blips. Orthodox prog rock also makes a significant impact, a sludgy guitar solo trickles through the start of ‘Turned Off’ before it crackles into a corrosive blast of Rage Against The Machine aggression, much like the spiraling ‘Beyond Alive’.

Bristling with innovation, ‘Inanimate Sensation’ sees Death Grips casually inventing horror-grime, and ‘Centuries Of Damn’ hits the previously unknown sweet spot between thundering wrath-rap and euphoric, ‘Smoke On The Water’-worthy riffage. Elsewhere, the cackling, vocoder-assisted Tron-punk of ‘Why A Bitch Gotta Lie’ is as pulsingly frenetic as this perplexing band have ever sounded. Death Grips haven’t quite chilled out with age then, but they’ve judiciously introduced some balance into their remarkable world.