Capsule Review: Radio Retaliation by Thievery Corporation

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October 21, 2008

2:15 AM

Thievery Corporation’s latest album, “Radio Retaliation,” sticks to the electronic, trip-hop style the D.C. duo has produced in the past, but is not without some new flavors. Almost every track features a different artist, each more unorthodox than, say, T.I. when lending a hand to T-Pain.

As the title would suggest, “Radio Retaliation” contains more than a few politically-driven songs. But the message never comes across too forcibly. As the name of the genre might suggest, the trip-hop tracks just coast along.

The first half of the album emphasizes the reggae sound Thievery was looking to explore this time around. Songs dance between the familiar reggae themes of fighting the power and the power of love. “Radio Retaliation” is punctuated early on by the song “Vampires,” which features Femi Kuti, the politically active Nigerian musician. The happy tone of the song hides the pain with which he sings of his nation’s troubles, as he mourns, “they gained a war but lost their soul.”

“33 Degree” acts as an axis for the album. Its sound is closer to the Corporation’s electronic core, but it explores the anti-oppression themes of the album. Beyond this track, the album shifts away from the reggae themes and towards the electronic and jazz sounds listeners have heard in the past.

Overall, the album proves an easy listen and features a diverse set of artists. However, it is not by any means a poppy album, and is probably better suited to those with more off beat tastes.

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