LISTENER - Being Empty : Being Filled

Listener - Being Empty : Being Filled

10 songs
49:57 minutes
***** ****
Sounds Of Subterrania


I read on Wikipedia that Listener are a spoken word rock band. Thatís possibly true in some ways, but in the end this is also limiting something quite complex to a lot less than it actually is. Founded as an underground hip hop project by Dan Smith, a first album was released in 2003. Over the years, Dan Smith was joined by a guitarist and a drummer, and he himself started playing the bass guitar and the trumpet. Subsequent albums had already a more rocking sound, but comparing their previous albums to their newest effort Being Empty : Being Filled shows us a huge difference approach. The new album, which seems to be a compilation of recent seven-inch singles, comes with a much harder sound. In the past, the musicians often acted quite timidly, but that is no longer the case.

Without wanting to pick out any special song, it should be noted that the quality is incredibly high from beginning to end. Dan Smithís vocal performance reminds me somewhat of Why?ís Yoni Wolf and the rapid-fire vocals of Nada Surfís popular song Popular. While Smith is not actually singing like a real singer, his vocals are more than simple spoken word. He rather sounds like a washed-up beat poet with a slight speech impediment delivering manic sermons. This is accompanied by a really dedicated band, with a guitarist whoís deeply rooted in the noisy alternative rock of the Nineties, and a rhythm section that has quite the punch. The aforementioned trumpet can only be heard on two tracks, adding some festive touches, but in the end itís Listenerís uncompromising rock music with Dan Smithís fervent vocals that make Being Empty : Being Filled the great album that it has turned out to be.

The hip hop origins are still very discernible, but they have decided to envelop themselves in a firm rocking foundation, and itís this original hybridisation that makes Listener much more than just another weary rap rock crossover act. This guys really rock, and are quite lyrical at the same time, making their band one of my first great discoveries of this still very young year.

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