For those not yet in the know Stanley Odd is a witty Edinburgh-based hip-hop crew fronted by the always entertaining MC Solareye and featuring sung vocals from his cohort Veronika Electronika.
After their Scottish Album of the Year nominated sophomore record Reject “sold fifty copies” they’re hoping to sell fifty more of Chase Yirsel, their sharpest and most political release to date.
Their self-deprecating raison d’être may be mixing “Slim Shady with Fake Plastic Trees” but Chase Yirsel manages to be more than that.
Singularly smart and thought provoking, Stanley Odd want to make you think as much as they want to make you dance.
Opener ‘Did Yi Hear’ offers a brief rundown of what they’ve been up to since Reject hit; visiting the original home of hip-hop NYC for their maiden American shows and musing on the changing social landscape of Scotland and how it is reflected in the music industry “CDs in HMV, lifetime ambition achieved, but the death of the high street made it kind of bittersweet”.
These contemplations are backed by bouncy drumbeats and buoyant keyboard chords reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem before a stuttering electronic breakdown that pitches Veronika’s voice through layers of filters.
More than ever Stanley Odd seems unafraid to take on the big issues; this is their most nakedly political statement yet, lambasting the political classes and their cronies in the media, particularly on the devastating letter-to-the-editor ‘Establishment’.
The chorus “this is how it works round here, we can make you disappear…you’ll be first against the wall” evokes a sinister menace that Radiohead would be proud of but it’s Solareye’s flow which is the real hook, taking on the Sunday papers over their suppression of dissent and touching on the importance of artists in social movements.
Title track ‘Chase Yirsel’ has a more upbeat swing, touching once more on public apathy and the upcoming independence referendum but exhorting the listener to “do what you like, like what you do”.
As always with Stanley Odd the laugh quota is high; Solareye is an eminently quotable MC, but here the group use their wits to slip some deeper truths home “if you’re a no show on 18th September then we’ll never know”.
‘Let Ma Brain Breathe’ takes aim at popular music itself and the knee-jerk hype that saw Robin Thicke banned but failed to condemn the likes of Snoop Dogg as well as a liturgy of social sins.
Sharper and more specific than ever, Stanley Odd is a renegade with something to say; just do it; join the Odd Squad.
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Words: Max Sefton