Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Egyptian Hip Hop - Good Don't Sleep

Egyptian Hip Hop are fashionably late. The party started back in 2010, with a flurry of new Mancunian hype acts clogging up the pages of the NME, and gradually venues of ever increasing size in the UK. Everything Everything became the thinking man's indie fixture with their Dali-like take on lyrics, Wu Lyf yapped and howled their way into a cult following and seemingly perpetual showers of critical praise, even Dutch Uncles and The Heartbreaks made a minor splash. Egyptian Hip Hop probably could have had as much, if not more success than the aforementioned, but instead decided to take a break from it all. Just as tracks like Rad Pitt and Moon Crooner were becoming cherished and wheeled out on all the hippest playlists, the group's presence became less and less noticeable.

While a hiatus has been used frequently as gimmick by marketing types to add some faux-mystery to a usually shitty band, the Egyptian Hip Hop break at least had some seeming validity, with the boys finishing up their latter years of study and expanding their music tastes into new weird and wonderful areas. Not that their debut Hudson Mohawke produced EP wasn't eclectic, compared to most of the other output of new UK indie bands it was a masterpiece, but there were moments where you felt perhaps they could go even further with the experimental side of things such as they displayed on the 6 minute track 'Native' and the knack for tunes like 'Wild Human Child', rather than the largely inconsequential bleeps of 'Middle Name Period'. 

Good Don't Sleep indicates a definite maturity for the group, and a decided embrace of the psychedelic and strange. Opener 'Tobago', scatters and oscillates pleasantly, with lead singer Alex Hewett's vocals droning rather than yapping. 'White Falls' meanwhile begins itself like a cut from the new Actress record at first, before exploding into a mesh of guitar and synth that spirals as Hewett moans atop. And that's not the only drone and reverb Egyptian Hip Hop throw into the mix, with tracks like 'Snake Lane West' and 'Strange Vale' sounding more relaxed and hazy than anything the band have released before; the downside of which being the songs getting lost in themselves.

Fortunately, Egyptian Hip Hop haven't completely neglected choruses and accessibility; new single 'Yoro Diallo' is a highly memorable guitar-centred track where Hewett's vocals are actually distinguishable, and the sleek 'SYH' provides what is undoubtedly the record's highlight with it's lean synth lines, catchy choruses and heavy beats. In fact, it's these more instant moments that really stand out on Good Don't Sleep, and by the time the album has fulfilled its runtime, you sort of wish there were more out and out pop songs rather than more sparse experimental tracks, only few of which really hit the mark (see the post-punk reminiscent excellence of One Eyed King).

This is progress for the young Manchester band and no mistake, but it's a progression that carries fleeting charm and memorability outside of the more straight up tracks. However, it still goes without saying that Egyptian Hip Hop are one of the most inventive and exciting bands to come out of the UK for what seems like eternity, and have many more years to fully unfurl all the tricks up their collective sleeve. 


Toby McCarron

1 comment:

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