Given its name, Generation Hexed, and the voodoo-style death's head face paint typically worn by its creator, Drums of Death (aka London-based Scotsman Colin Bailey), you'd be forgiven for thinking this debut album was part of the witch house scene. In fact Drums of Death, part of the Hot Chip-linked Greco Roman label that's grown out of an ongoing series of east London warehouse parties, is more about the gleaming snap and crackle of pop than the chopped and screwed gothwave micro-genre spearheaded by Salem and oOoOO.
Over the last two years Bailey has gained a reputation as a remixer and co-written tracks with Peaches and Hot Chip, these achievements coming about after he drew attention with his energetic live show. For all the energy displayed on Generation Hexed, though, there's a sense of derivativeness running throughout. Most prominent is the feel of downmarket LCD Soundsystem clinging to several tracks. Bailey's vocal delivery on Science & Reason is redolent of LCD's James Murphy's incantatory style down to the last yelp, and that's even before the cowbells kick in. On a track like this (first heard two years ago) the explicitness of the influence doesn't really get in the way of a decent pop song. Elsewhere, however, where the writing is weaker, the similarity of the sound feels more like redundancy.
Heard in a quick radio burst or in a club, Won't Be Long's fusion of vintage hardcore and classic New York garage (hardly innovative, but done well here) will hit the spot, as will the 8-bit surge of Creak, and the cheesy-as-hell but sweet Voodoo Lovers (with Gonzales on ivory-tickling duties). But for every zombie shuffle forward, Generation Hexed seems to take at least one back. Lonely Days works hard to be catchy, but the only bit that really sticks is the same one-note stab that propels RIP Groove's speed garage classic, Double 99. House music has a long tradition of theft, of course, but the targets Bailey chooses to plunder aren't always so astute. Witness his dodgy Bryan Ferry (via James Murphy again) impression on Modern Age.
There are moments - like the middle of London Teeth, when DJ Rolando-style strings rub up against a simple, memorable vocal hook - when it's possible to imagine a much better Drums of Death album than this. In its present incarnation, though, Bailey's freshman effort is distant from that ideal.
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