Audio Bullys - Higher Than the Eiffel
Release Date: March 29, 2010
Record Label: The End Records
In a post-dubstep explosion world, it has become difficult to appreciate a straight-up techno album that opts out of using a drop that blasts your sub-woofers through a wall and leaves your eardrums ringing like church bells. What a depressing world to live in if such is the case. Thankfully, true techno is not dead; this is proven in spades with Audio Bullys third full-length album, Higher Than The Eiffel.
The North London duo, made up of Simon Franks and Tom Dinsdale, have successfully crafted a groovy, psychedelic, and decidedly chill collection of fourteen tracks better suited for a long night drive than the dancefloor -- a surprisingly refreshing approach that hits its own unique niche.The entire album takes a very minimalist approach, with an extremely basic synth and percussion formula, with few frills, but occasionally breaking out some horns and harmonica.
Higher Than The Eiffel does not impress right out of the gate. The opening track “Drums (On With the Story),” is a fairly weak track, attempting to evoke an avant-garde sonic garden that slowly begins to adhere to a discernible beat and melody, but lacks any type of hook. The disappointment of an opener is quickly remedied by the maddeningly catchy “Only Man,” that, despite the repetitive lyrics, holds the listener’s attention, varying it up just enough to keep it interest and the track doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
“Only Man” gives way to one of the strongest songs on the album, “Daisy Chains” which paints a dark electronic landscape with just the right amount of funk, and strings that compliment it brilliantly. The album idles along at a steady pace, with a managed ebb and flow, standouts being the also groovy “Dynamite” and wet-sounding “Dragging Me Down.”
That isn’t to say the track-list is complete gold, however. “London Dreamer” is a disappointing piece, and easily the weakest track on the album. It seems to be a sad hybrid of 90’s rap and Euro-Pop, limping the whole way. And, while the vocals do, for the most part, get the job done throughout the album, Eifel’s tenth track “Shotgun” does reach a bit too far for its own good. Replacing the normally sparse lyrics for slightly more robust lines with a keyboard backing, does not mesh well when combined with the established vocal style of the album, causing the track to fight itself, leaving the final product feeling rather awkward. While the post-verse melody does make up for it a bit, the track still suffers overall.
Higher Than The Eiffel doesn’t re-invent the wheel. It pushes no boundaries and engages no trends. This is a standard techno album that pretends to be nothing more. In most cases, this could be considered a bad thing, and this album will most likely be considered by many as a vapor album, or worse, uninspired. However, this plainness ends up being one of the albums greatest strengths: it’s a break to catch one’s breath. It may not do anything outstanding, but it is an extremely solid release boasting some basic, yet surprisingly catchy melodies that will draw back repeat listens.
Audio Bullys have opened up a door that has been closed for a short, but critical time. True techno has been woefully overlooked in recent years, but is certainly not dead. While taking some glaring missteps, Higher Than The Eiffel is a quality LP that treads its path at a relaxing pace. What it lacks in bass rattling power it makes up with pop-sensible catchiness that, at the end of the day, is more than enough to suffice.