Album Review: Example – The Evolution of Man

By on Monday, 19th November 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by guest reviewer Carrie Clancy

I’m not into dance / club / electro / techno / hip hop / dubstep music. When my Twitter feed started buzzing about Example‘s new album, I stifled a yawn and scrolled down the page. But when I spied a Tweet from someone whose musical opinions I respect, about the album’s first single, ‘Say Nothing’ I narrowed my eyes and clicked the accompanying link. And…the single wasn’t bad. On subsequent listens, I quite liked it. I was disappointed that ‘Say Nothing’ wasn’t available for purchase in America, so I decided to seek out more information on the album proper. Thus began my virgin foray into the world of dance / club / electro / techno / hip-hop / dubstep / whatevs… via ‘The Evolution of Man’, out today on Ministry of Sound.

Except this album isn’t dance / club / electro / techno / hip-hop / dubstep. It’s a pop/rock album with a very definite electro-dance slant. In fact, the album leans more heavily toward guitar rock than I expected, with Blur’s Graham Coxon contributing guitar work to four tracks. With massive production by several well-known electronic music specialists (Feed Me, Dirty South, Tommy Trash, Skream, Benga), the dance element is still strongly present. The resulting album has a fresh, edgy sound sure to grab the attention of critics and fans alike.

I caught myself dancing along to the heavy beats, at first reluctantly but more willingly as the album went on. Example’s singing voice is pleasantly clear and melodic, with a very sexy timbre in the low register. The choruses are sharp and clever, even on the occasions when eloquence is sacrificed for the rhyme scheme. Thematically, these are mature, self-reflective songs with provocatively witty lyrics. Example and his team of musicians show admirable restraint in not obliterating the songs’ emotional effects with a battering ram of sound.

The first three singles are definite highlights on the album. Anyone familiar with Johnny McDaid’s work (Snow Patrol, Paul Van Dyk, Vega 4), will recognize his stamp on the lovelorn lyrics of ‘Say Nothing’. ‘Close Enemies’ (video below), the album’s second single, is possibly my favorite track, with its infectiously singable and danceable chorus, “keep your best friends close by / but keep your enemies closer”. Third single ‘Perfect Replacement’ is the most heavily dance-oriented track on the album.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMsmdQ2oTN4[/youtube]

The track sequencing is seamlessly effective from beginning to end. ‘Come Taste the Rainbow’ has a sultry, sexy chorus and uses the eponymous lyric without becoming childish or vulgar (or both). Penultimate track ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ is the most in-your-face, aggressive rock song on the album, and is probably deliberately situated next to the familiar dance sound of ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’ (by Calvin Harris and Example).

In summary, I was completely awestruck by this album; it blew away any preconceived notions I might have had. As a self-confessed music snob, I feel a bit guilty about enjoying it, but I also have the feeling that was Example’s intention. ‘The Evolution of Man’ is the most apt title I’ve ever encountered, for here, Example has undertaken the kind of artistic change-in-direction that may alienate old fans but will certainly reap new ones.

9/10

‘The Evolution of Man’, the new album from Example, is now available on Ministry of Sound. He will head out on a massive arena tour of the UK in February and March 2013; all the details are here.

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