It’s not easy being a Death Grips Fan. Ever since they’ve been in the public eye, the experimental hip-hop trio have had a rocky relationship with their listeners. Cancelled gigs, long-delayed albums and a later retracted announcement that the band was “over” have been just some of the products of their unconventional approach to, well – everything.
But every once in a while Death Grips reward our patience with a pleasant surprise. On Thursday, the band shared a mega upload to the first album by a mysterious group called the i.l.y’s on their website, thirdworlds.net. Death Grips have left the relationship between themselves and the i.l.y’s ambiguous and while it’s difficult to disassociate them from this album, they have to be commended for stepping back from the release and allowing it to be judged on its own merit. I’ve always been good at true love is, by itself, a solid but not revolutionary noise-rock record.
Heavy distortion, psychedelia and rough-sounding electronic beats are all present here, which makes it an interesting tweak on the noise-rock genre. The fuzzy guitar on the opener, The Sickest Fuck of Them All works great to create a muddy, spiraling-down feeling that sucks you into its wall of sound. Articulate (I’m Going So far Into You) is one of the stronger tracks with its hypnotic riff, broken up by ethereal breaks which surge ecstatically back into noise.
Synthesised sounds creep into the album sporadically. Bubble Letters is an aural assault, combining the overarching distorted rock of the album with these sharp synthetic noises. There’s also an electric current running through Sustain. It’s a bold combination of sound, but one that ultimately gets lost in the lo-fi aesthetic of the album. Occasionally the i.l.y’s slip into generic rock territory. My Career is the most conventional punk piece of the album which, while it avoids being offensive, doesn’t really add anything to the album.
All She Does Is Kill Shit is the strongest track here. The distorted guitar work takes a back seat while the Transylvanian sounds and percussion drive the song. The toned back vocals of whom we assume to be Stefan Burnett work perfectly here, building on the dark atmosphere while giving the instrumentals room to breath.
I’ve always been good at true love could easily have been just another drop in the ocean of noise-rock if it weren’t for the hypnotic psychedelia and electronic elements that work well on so many tracks. The lacklustre production holds it back somewhat but doesn’t compromise what is an interesting take on the genre.
Favourite tracks: The Sickest Fuck of Them All, Articulate, All She Does is Kill Shit
Least favourite: My Career