The folks behind the best hip-hop album of 2011 have released a new EP. Is it better than their last album?
8.1 / 10.0
First things first: it’s free, go get it now. Dream Jefferson’s brand of electro-hip-hop-pop isn’t the most original sound going, but these guys actually find a nice medium between being all-out nerds and romantic fools, making some of the catchiest and most relatable music in recent memory. Their previous EP, last year’s Punch Perm, was my third-favorite album of 2011, which may have set the bar too high for their latest EP, Manchester Blue — it’s either that or Dream Jefferson need to put out something longer than half an hour instead of putting out one quality EP after another.
Manchester Blue feels like a test run of an awesome LP to come. Discounting “The Grove”, borrowing a synth line from Fantastic Damage’s title track and the Sega Genesis sample that fuels “Sad Girl”, this EP sees Dream Jefferson follow the direction of Punch Perm highlight “Embrace Before the Fall”. Every song on this EP feels influenced by relationships, or longing for relationships, and for the most part, this subject matter is discussed in a mature manner but without the tone or lack of personality that this might imply. The production here is much more focused too with nothing overly maniacal, and you might not notice that entire minutes of the album fly by with no rapping due to the band’s effective use of guitars and empty space. There’s a lot to take in with Manchester Blue’s seventeen minutes, but none of it feels laborious to get through.
At the same time, though, this is seventeen minutes of music. Punch Perm was short, too, but it still managed to feel like a complete product. Manchester Blue feels like the start of an excellent album, not an excellent album by itself, and while I appreciate and enjoy the direction Dream Jefferson are going, this EP doesn’t completely fill me up in the same way that their last EP did. Oh, it’s great, but I’m left wanting more, which may be a backhanded compliment in many ways.