Mar 1, 2009 - 11:40 AM
Ever. It’ll never be better.
P.O.S. doesn’t care about the feel-good hit of the summer. He’s not trying to craft poppy, sing-a-long choruses or finger-poppin’ jams. He’s too busy turning intense thoughts and complex ideas into frenetic, unapologetic, beastly beats accompanied by lip-splitting, light-speed lyrics. As he raps on the opening cut of his third album, Never Better: “I draw a line between an easy melody and peace of mind.”
The new disc is full of tracks that delve further into his world of pounding, industrial drumbeats and meaningful, insightful rapping. The disc is dark and creepy, frustrated and angry. While this may not get people whistling his tunes, it seems fitting considering he’s meditating heavily on real issues and confronting life struggles like alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and mindless consumerism. For instance, on the title track, he raps: “Never better when better won’t do / you can bet on that, they’re gonna peddle the cure.”
Most of the backing beats are every bit as corrosive as the subject material. The schizophrenic “Get Smokes” has a clipped guitar hook, saw-blade noises and a bare-bones beat that come together sounding like some classic funk-jam that’s had a leg shot off but is still lurching around, looking for a missing eye-ball. P.O.S. spits relentlessly over the top, filling in the space: “I’m on some Ichabod Crane raps / scared of the headless gaps in an audience…”
At least he’s sentient of his attempt to reach a thinking crowd. And it’s worth noting that he does.
The album is also laced with his casual presentation, leaving in snippets of candid recording moments where he doesn’t take himself too seriously. On “Purexed” he chuckles and chants, “Duh-daa,” mocking his own usage of a grandiose organ chord. A few of the songs even build into full-blown and relatively tranquil choruses. Although they sound like something you’d expect from Pennsylvania rockers CKY: distorted guitars churning beneath haunting vocal harmonies.
Not the thing to throw on at a party, but heavy and enough to drown out some of the vapid, feel-good bullshit that’s out there.
Sam Devine freelances for several Bay Area publications, including the SF Bay Guardian. He recently joined the staff of drink me magazine, which launches in late March 2009.