Album Reviews

Jenny Death – Death Grips

Final Rating: 7.4/10

The second half of The Powers that B is finally here. This is the “final” album that Death Grips has promised us since their supposed break up. It is the second part of an album that started with Niggas On the Moon; An album that featured many vocal samples of Icelandic songstress Björk being spliced and shattered to oblivion. For a double album, you’d expect some sort of continuity (at least sound wise). but Jenny Death seems to be another experiment that Death Grips have had up their sleeves (I had to) this whole time. Jenny Death is the most rock oriented they have ever sounded, as the harsh synths sound almost like guitars. This rivals the previous album, which was far tamer in nature (despite still being vicious as usual). The Powers that B may try to have two separate albums argue with one other. It’s the only way the project would make sense.

There is one other way that these two albums contrast each other, though. Niggas on the Moon was an exciting album at first that slowly got tired (save for the album staple Billy Not Really). Jenny Death was an absolute chore on the first listen that got more enjoyable the more I listened to it. It is quite a repetitive album in its upper layers of noise, but the underlying beats and rhythms are what save Jenny Death from being a mess. Once you discover the grooves, everything melts into place. The production takes some time to appreciate, since it’s a lot to take in at once. You’ll find some bangers once this album grows on you, like the fantastic opener I Break Mirrors with My Face in the United States and the self titled track of the double disc The Powers That B. 

The album has a bit of an identity, but we’re missing the individual gut punches that Death Grips used to be able to deliver. On The Money Store, every song was a separate beast that refused to stop beating you up when you were down and bloody. On Ex Military, not every song was perfect, but each song sure did hold you at knife point. Government Plates nauseated you with (catchy) repetition, and No Love Deep Web cast you down bottomless pits that disoriented you. It was only once we reached Niggas on the Moon that we started to notice some weakness with this experimental hip-hop formula that Death Grips have been abiding to this whole time. They’ve tried to alienate and infuriate. They’ve succeeded highly until now. 

We’re getting in on the Death Grips joke now, and so has the music itself. The music is getting stale with the amount of hits Death Grips have tried to dish. If you recall the Yellow Bastard scene in Sin City where his head is reduced to mush, you can only commit violence in the same area for so often before it gets both tiresome and without substance to abuse. Niggas on the Moon got uninteresting quickly, but not as quickly as Fashion Week, which was a very appropriate name for an album that was forgotten within a few days. Jenny Death is at least better than both of these albums, and each song has life on here. However, the rock orchestrated writing and measures are not as emotion inducing as Death Grips themselves may have felt they would be.

 There is a lot of effort in song writing here, though, especially with pieces like the haunting lead melody in Centuries of Damn. Parts of Jenny Death sound like they are classic rock influenced, with Zach Hill channeling his inner Keith Moon and John Bonham (he’s probably his most controlled at times on this album, considering). MC Ride barks like an angry punk vocalist and not a rapper occasionally. Jenny Death sure is some new ground in some ways for Death Grips, and the amount of layers may be why the band was so confident in their work. For now, it is a step up from their last two efforts (way up) but I feel as though their heyday was behind them.

Then again, this album may end up growing on me even more. Maybe this is the time Death Grips have escaped me the most (truly so). If you end up seeing this album or songs on it on my lists at the end of the year, do not be surprised. Maybe I am a bitter patient slowly digesting his medicine. RIght now, I see songs that stand out highly (On GP is quite an astonishing song for Death Grips, weirdly) and some that fall back a little bit (Inanimate Sensation is still not hitting me like some others on here, even with the head start it got as the mysterious single). I can see this album changing with me, either for the better or for the worse, in the future. For now, it’s not too shabby and even really nice at times. It is still far from their most cohesive and strong album, though.

I will forever wonder how this has anything to do with the first part of The Powers That B, though.Perhaps I lost there as well. 

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.