Words About Music
Seems like a match made in indie weirdness heaven, doesn’t it? Serengeti’s oddball hip hop flow, Son Lux’s smooth electro beats, and Sufjan Stevens’ general presence all in one album? Yes!! Sisyphus, formerly known as s / s / s, is an alternative hip-hop/indie pop group made up of these three dudes and “Sisyphus” is their debut album. While this group isn’t doing anything offensively bad, it feels so polarized that I can’t bring myself to enjoy a ton of it. It sounds more like “The Age of Adz (REMIX)” than it should, and I’d much prefer a new Sufjan solo album. But hey, let’s talk about it anyway.
Sufjan Stevens is a notoriously goofy dude, even though a good portion of his songs are very serious. He posts weird stuff on tumblr and Twitter, dresses up like a Capital-D douche in recent music videos, and records hundreds of Christmas songs. He’s a hilarious and undeniably talented dude and his recent electronic experiments seem like they’d go very well in a hip hop setting. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case in the form of Sisyphus. It sounds like a bunch of b-sides from “The Age of Adz” (or even just the 26-minute closing track “Impossible Soul”) with added electronic production/ambience and some weird raps. It does turn out well sometimes in the form of intentionally silly songs like “Booty Call” and “Alcohol,” but for the more serious tracks I’m just not quite feeling it.
In regards to the instrumentation, Son Lux does a great job I think. The music is glitchy and cloudy in a way that reminds me of Purity Ring in a way, but of course it all cycles back to Sufjan’s most recent solo ventures and how he sings over pretty much the same kind of music on “The Age of Adz.” Also, the music almost feels like a lie. With their promo photos and singles I was anticipating a cleverly ironic group making sarcastically catchy music. And if you watch the music videos for “Alcohol” and “Booty Call” then I’m sure you’d join me in that assumption. However, a good portion of “Sisyphus” takes itself quite seriously. And that wouldn’t be THAT bad if what I was listening to was a new Sufjan solo album. But it all just sounds out of place and what I expect should be a goofy hip hop record.
All in all, the album feels boring/gimmicky at its worst. “Take Me” is overlong, out of place, and a bit unmemorable even though it’s incredibly repetitive. And then it’s followed by the aforementioned “Booty Call” which is basically the exact opposite, short and pretty hilarious. Serengeti isn’t the most creative rapper in the world, but his contributions to the music add a layer of levelheadedness to the music. It doesn’t feel so heavy when his verses come on. Mostly this album is okay with some pretty great songs on it. It’s not consistent, unfortunately, but it does have its high points. Let’s just hope Sufjan comes through with a killer solo album sometime soon.
SCORE – 5.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – Calm It Down, Booty Call, Rhythm of Devotion, My Oh My, Lion’s Share, Alcohol