Lazy Habits – ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ [Review]

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Thoughtful, thought-provoking, and above all else intelligent, The Atrocity Exhibition is a serious and seriously timely album.

The hip-hop world has been sending certain beat-backed messages loud and clear for a long time now. Life can be tough. The way the world works sets the tide and cultural current against individual expression and creativity – even as we’re bombarded by messages broadcasting how important both are for our collective mental health. People of all ages, races, genders, and so forth have found themselves trapped living lives that they don’t enjoy, and feel helpless when it comes to finding a way out.

The Atrocity Exhibition, at its core, is about purging life of its toxic elements, putting the world to rights, and confronting all the conflicts and frustrations, internal and external, that come with taking meaningful action instead of passively lying back or rolling your eyes and bending over. Lines to the above effect are spit left, right, and centre while Lazy Habits deliver self-assured grooves, luxurious string arrangements, and trademark soulful brass parts to keep it from getting too downbeat. The overall result is an album that sucks you in and leaves your mind nourished rather than sucked dry for the sake of making seven quid ninety-nine.

When Lazy Habits want to chill, they do it with style; see Kicking The Clouds, Give It Up and Never Did. But wherever you listen, there’s never darkness far behind – especially the latter tune, which expresses victory over self-doubt in an inimitable highlight moment. Feed The Brass cuts deep, addressing prostitution and drug addiction; Left 2 (Ruins) and Crossing deal with issues of motivation, frustration, and desperation in very different ways, the latter boasting a classy guest vocal from Miss Baby Sol; The Breach proves as bold, assertive, and passionate as ever; and Answers With Questions actually sounds like an old-school Justin Timberlake / Timbaland collaboration, which is no bad thing – a personal highlight, in fact.

Nostalgia is afforded airtime on Hindsight Bias, a perfectly arranged mix of military snare drum, piano, anxious bass, and hip-hop / pop crossover vibes, and Waiting Around ends Lazy Habit’s latest on-record set by tackling the irritations and blocks that inevitably stand in the way of any creative project’s completion. Ultimately, though, The Terminal Beach proved my favourite track. Guest MC Dizraeli just nails that one, pushing out idiosyncratic word-streams that never cease to inspire, blending heavy political themes with trademark humour. The reason it works so insanely well, though, is because it’s on this album; it fits perfectly with Lazy Habits’ vision, and is a classic example of some kind of creative telepathy. Great minds are absolutely thinking alike there.

Overall, The Atrocity Exhibition is anything but an exhibition of atrocities; Lazy Habits have just levelled up again. If you spend your days feeling like you’re running a marathon while waist-deep in mud, the relief you need is available in audio form as of tomorrow.


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Posted on 26 May 2016

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