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DJ Shadow: The Less You Know, the Better

Island Records

It's been five years since DJ Shadow released a proper album, and the time feels right for the instrumental hip-hop luminary to wrap his monolithic turntablism around the biggest, dustiest beats he can pilfer. Unfortunately, The Less You Know, The Better is not that album. "Back To Front" offers a false start as the tangled web of rhythms and samples wind up for a homerun. But the transition into "Border Crossing's" pointless metal riffs, and Talib Kweli and Posdnuos' well-mannered rapping in "Stay the Course" scream phoned-in. Introspective numbers - "I've Been Trying" and "Redeemed" - are deep cuts that spin in their tracks. The biggest bust of all arrives with the scorned lover poetry in "Give Me Back the Nights," which can't end soon enough. "Sad and Lonely" and "Tedium" return to old school form, but "Midnight In a Perfect World" they are not. Ultimately there's no grit to The Less You Know, and nothing compelling about its lack of focus. Definitely not one of Shadow's strongest statements. (2 out of 5 stars)