Hip-hop is not a genre often associated with Scotland, so it can prove difficult to take this Edinburgh six-piece seriously. Nevertheless, Stanley Odd have spent the last few years swimming hard against the riptide of heavy rock in their home country. They have done so quite successfully: debut studio album Oddio, released two years ago to critical acclaim, helped the group break their festival duck. But that, as they say, is all in the past; a band is, after all, only as good as their latest release – in this case, Reject.
It seems to be the fashion to kick off an album with an introduction, and the Odd are not ones to buck this trend. They set the scene for their second full-length record with angrily spat vocals diving head-first into a scathing political rant. Mainly highlighting perceived flaws in the political system, the lyrics flow nicely and match both the crooked drum pattern and droning bass well. It leads onto longest track Antiheroics, a sawtooth-surfing ripsnorter of a song that pounds along with all the momentum of a freight train.
There’s a strong undercurrent of humour rippling underneath the gloom; Solareye – the lead vocalist, clearly – has a snarky, wooden tone to his voice, his Scottish brogue rearing its head to provide a tether to his ego. It somehow balances the otherwise American influence to root the group squarely in Midlothian. Of course, the comedy is also crafted purposefully – the entire chorus of single Killergram is built around performance metaphors; interlude The Counsellor's Waiting Room is elevator music designed purely to introduce Marriage Counselling; and various puns are littered throughout.
A defining feature of this record is the remarkably heavy use of 8-bit synthesiser, as though someone was fiddling around on Pokémon Red while they were laying down the tracks. This can be used to good effect, and often is: the sine wave on Join the Club, among others, purrs and spasmodically squeals underneath a muffled drum kit, providing an ideal canvas for the male/female vocal duels going on over the top. Overall then, Reject is a solid forty-six minute olio of pulsing syncopation with some rather clever lyrics woven into it. If there was ever a hip-hop album to proselytise critics, this is their champion.
Reject by Stanley Odd is out on the 17th of September.