Beastie Boys

I must admit that my expectations weren’t high when I discovered that the Beastie Boys’ new album was “their first-ever full album of all-new instrumental material”. My thoughts went instantly to wordless versions of their best-loved tracks, which, sans rapping, are little more than drum beats and bass lines.

What I found, then, surprised me in its intricacy. Sure, the drumbeats and basslines are there in abundance, but the tunes carved by the keyboards and guitar riffs genuinely transform each track from an instrumental collection to a whole song. Oddly enough, many of the tracks reminded me of the much-undervalued 90’s acid-jazz combo Corduroy in their format, especially the engaging opening songs “B For My Name” and “14th St. Break”

Elsewhere on the album, “Suco De Tangerina” is a Latin-infused offering, with enough sass to make anyone mambo, while “Freaky Hijiki” could well have been taken from any 70’s Blaxploitation movie.

There is a mixture of quality on “The Mix-Up”, though, with some of the tracks falling short of the mark. “Off The Grid” is plodding and dull, “Electric Worm” is a bass scale with drums and, I’m sad to report, “Dramastically Different” is far from that.

After a mediocre middle stint, the closing couplet of “The Cousin Of Death” followed by “The Kangaroo Rat” bring it back on track with tunes that really catch the attention.

On the whole, “The Mix-Up” is a solid offering, with some tracks that make you stop what you’re doing and listen intently, and others that just fade into the background. Probably best listened to while doing something else, or if you want to chill out with the possibility of sleep.

Simon Middleyard