Although they’ve had plenty to complain about since they put out 2006’s “Pick a Bigger Weapon,” the rabble-rousing act The Coup is just now getting around to its follow-up, “Sorry to Bother You.”
The new release is no apology. Frontman rapper/activist Boots Riley, who has been busy in the Occupy movement, is calling for a revolution as loudly as ever in the band’s 20-year history.
Fittingly, “Sorry to Bother You’s” frenetic sound has a decided punk edge, though it alternates from feeling like a pep rally to a poetry slam to a rock show to a dance club to an experimental theater production — all with a hip-hop/R&B foundation and rare moments of overreaching.
And as riveting as the sound is, the music is outsmarted by Riley’s lyrics — radical, uncompromising and yet often funny.
His demands for socio-economic equality go from the fight-back message of opener “The Magic Clap” (“This is the last kiss Martin ever gave to Coretta”) to the more pointed point of closer “WAVIP” (which stands for “we’re all VIP” and includes the line, “We gon’ riot, loot, rob till we rich as Rockefeller”).
It’s often droll — as when a disco arrangement frames Riley’s call for a neo-French Revolution on “The Guillotine” with the chant, “We got the guillotine, you better run!” Also, in the slow-burning rock of “My Murder, My Love,” he declares, “Let me clarify things with the way I strut so I can shout with my mouth shut.” “Sorry to Bother You” is even sentimental in the semi-chamber-pop melancholy of “Violet.”
However, the laughs and the melodies might not resonate with listeners as much as the serious stuff like “Strange Arithmetic,” which notes, “In mathematics, dead children don’t get added/But they count the cost of bullets comin’ out the automatic.” Or the militaristic “Land of 7 Billion Dances”: “Paycheck cut can’t stop the bleeding/Sharks are feeding/We ain’t eating/No more pleading/Time for stampeding.”
It’s enough to make a CEO squirm.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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