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Example “#Hits” – Album Review

Ministry of Sound (2013)

Initially a cult geezer-rapper signed to Mike Skinner’s The Beats label, Elliot Gleave (aka Example) was then accused of becoming a sell-out when he transformed himself into an electro-pop maestro, selling out arenas and regularly topping the UK charts as a result.

However, coinciding with his recent departure from Ministry Of Sound, 16-track compilation #Hits proves that his sung-spoken delivery has always been more effective when surrounded by massive festival-friendly pop hooks.

Ignoring his little-known 2007 debut, What We Made, entirely, #Hits picks up the Example story at his 2010 commercial breakthrough, Won’t Go Quietly, a tour-de-force of dance-pop which spawned the glorious Balearic anthem, “Watch The Sun Come Up,” the cheeky electro-house of the title track, and signature hit, “Kickstarts,” a surprisingly sweet declaration of love which proved that there was a tenderness and vulnerability underneath all the laddish swagger.

Just as much attention is paid to 2011 follow-up Playing In The Shadows. But apart from “Natural Disaster,” a Laidback Luke production which appears to take its cue from the haunting John Carpenter scores of the 70s, the four tracks included here prove that his foray into EDM sacrificed the playfulness that set him apart from his peers.

Indeed, the slightly sanctimonious statement of disaffected youth that is “Wide Awake” is possibly the most forgettable UK number one in this century. Meanwhile, the bombastic rave of “Changed The Way You Kissed Me” and the dubstep-by-numbers of “Midnight Run” are charmless and utterly transparent attempts to jump on the bandwagon-du-jour.

Thankfully, the shimmering synth-pop of “Say Nothing” is the only representation from his woeful self-pitying fourth studio effort, The Evolution Of Man, although an unremarkable remix of “Close Enemies” does make the cut alongside equally pedestrian reworkings from Moam and Jakob Liedholm.

Elsewhere, there are a couple of unremarkable collaborations with Calvin Harris (“We’ll Be Coming Back”) and Don Diablo (“Hooligans”), while the infectious Stone Roses-sampling hip-pop of Wretch 32 hook-up “Unorthodox” boosts the tally of essential Example hits. But if you already own his sophomore, there’s little else here to explain why Sony recently offered a multi-million dollar deal for his services.


3 / 5 stars     

About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music