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Example “The Evolution Of Man”: Album Review

Ministry of Sound (2012)

Previously signed to Mike Skinner’s The Beats label, outspoken hip-pop chart-topper Example appears to be following in his former boss’ footsteps judging by his fourth studio album, The Evolution Of Man.

Like The Streets’ woefully misguided The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, the follow-up to 2011’s hedonistic Playing In The Shadows abandons the suburban geezer shtick that made some women want to be with him (and some men want to be him), and instead bemoans the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll celebrity lifestyle he once revelled in.

The self-indulgent and self-pitying tales of regret on The Evolution Of Man might be a little easier to stomach were they not surrounded by such an abrasive and disharmonious wall of noise.

Early singles “Kickstarts,” “Won’t Go Quietly” and “Watch The Sun Come Up” prove that Example knows his way around a great pop melody.  But apart from the U2-goes-trance of “Say Nothing,” any similar infectious anthems have been sacrificed for unforgivably generic fratstep wobbles (“Perfect Replacement”) brainless early 90s rave pastiches (“Crying Out For Help”) and bizarre attempts to revive the nu-metal scene (“Come Taste The Rainbow”).

It’s all the more disappointing considering Example has managed to assemble a pretty impressive behind-the-scenes team that are capable of so much better, from dubstep pioneers Benga and Skream, to drum ‘n’ bass maestro Friction, to Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, although how hipster Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe can afford to be so snobbish when he produces such formulaic nonsense as “Blood From A Stone” is a mystery.

And while Example’s vocals have never been his strong point, he sounds positively comatose on many of this album’s thirteen tracks, particularly on the shimmering Balearics of “Queen Of Your Dreams,” which sounds like Crash Test Dummies have gate-crashed the White Isle.

The likes of Drake and Frank Ocean have shown it’s possible to wallow in navel-gazing misery without boring listeners into a stupor. And while The Evolution Of Man may have allowed Example to exorcise his demons, it’s a shame he had to do so in such a charmless, monotonous and wearying manner.

1.5 / 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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