Hadouken! - For The Masses
A decent song title can paint a picture. Who wouldn't be intrigued enough to give 'A Design For Life' a spin? 'Purple Rain'? 'All Along the Watchtower'? It asks the listener pay heed. Who knows what way 'Barbie Girl' might go? So when you're confronted with the tracklist from For The Masses, with all the anonymity of titles like 'Rebirth', 'Evil', 'Ugly' and 'Lost', you've got to hope the sonics can equal the ambition of the actual album title itself.
There's something inately appealing, at least on paper, about Hadouken! Like a Top Shop Atari Teenage Riot they seem well-placed to bring the average student disco to its knees with their firebrand blasts of techno fury, utterly defining the notion of 'grindie'. 2008's Music For An Accelerated Culture went on to sell over 100,000 copies despite middling reviews and this follow up seeks to up the ante, with frontman James Smith declaring "I want(ed) this record to sound good over a 1000 kilowatt sounds system or on a Nokia phone on the back of a bus." Do they "drop beats that crack your cranium"? For sure. But what else is on offer?
This second full-length policy document finds the band disappointingly single-minded, with pretty much everything a variation on Prodigy-style sinister intros leading to heavy beats and the spitting vocals of Smith. Taken individually, perhaps on a Friday night after a few cider-and-blacks, each cut may seem invigorating but over the course of the entire album, it's fairly monotonous and, truth be told, a little dated. It's not just the sleeve that shouts Senser. Ironically, the one time they mix things up ('House Is Falling') by paring some treated Cure-y guitars with a steadier stomp, it's the likeliest candidate for some festival tent nodding come the better weather.
On its own terms, For The Masses is a success, delivering the "hard and fast" album the band wanted to create. Where it falls down, however, is in the lack of dynamics and the lack of a stand out anthem, even to a 'That Boy That Girl' level.