Initially conceived as a side-project by Pendulum’s Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen before becoming a full-time concern in the wake of the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s 2012 split, Knife Party now showcase their playful side on their full-length debut album, Abandon Ship.
Indeed, the twelve-track affair, which was leaked onto iTunes by mistake two weeks before its scheduled release date, proves that at least a certain section of the EDM scene possesses a sense of humor, with the pair infusing their speaker-blasting brand of electro-house with all sorts of unlikely samples and sounds.
The wailing sirens, propulsive beats and dirty synths of the Skrillex-esque “Resistance” are joined by an excerpt of dialogue from Crocodile Dundee. The glitchy chiptune of “404” is regularly interrupted by the sound of a USB cable connecting to a PC, while the surprisingly funky “Superstar” sees a disgruntled partygoer complain, “What the f*** is this disco s***? What happened to all the dubstep?”
It’s a question many Knife Party fans may be asking once Abandon Ship draws to a close. “D.I.M.H.” begins with a burst of gospel preaching before seguing into a soaring slice of trance-pop; “EDM Trend Machine” jumps on the deep house bandwagon with some old-school vocal loops and the gutsy impassioned tones of I AM MONSTAS’ soulman Bryn Christopher; and there are also ventures into reggae (“Give It Up”), Middle Eastern-tinged trap (“Boss Mode”) and horror movie scores (“Micropenis”).
Swire and McGrillen haven’t entirely abandoned the kind of epic hands-in-the-air bangers which first suggested that there was life after Pendulum. However, as you’d expect, that’s when the record makes a turn for the formulaic, with “Begin Again” little more than a retread Swedish Mafia House’s signature hit, and the generic closer “Kaleidoscope” failing to offer the colorful variety its title indicates.
In the end, Abandon Ship may be just a little too eclectic to connect with Knife Party’s regular fratboy crowd. But its sense of adventure may just earn the respect of those who perhaps dismissed the duo as one-trick ponies first time around.
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