“I’m not shit; I’m champagne.” An inauspicious start for a mostly inauspicious record. Eyedea and Abilities’ By the Throat is an odd combo of indie rock, white-boy rap and trashy electro rock beats that occasionally flirts with worthiness but more often sounds like an Eminem knock-off or a Beastie Boys parody. This may be harsh, but as far as white rappers go, Vanilla Ice was more fun, and we still remember his name almost 20 years later. That might have been plausible for E & A if they had spent more time crafting tunes like “Sky Diver,” which sounds like rap by way of dark, dreamy Portishead grooves, or “This Story,” with its likable Jay-Z-meets-suburban-teen cadence layered over electro-dance rap. Instead, they waste their energy on cynical, silly, pseudo-philosophical lines like, “Empathy is the poor man’s cocaine,” from “Burn Fetish,” and “Time Flies When You Have a Gun.” (The title is the only thing it’s got going for it.) There’s so little originality that I can’t listen to a single track without immediately being reminded of someone else. But at least from start to finish they never again approach the low levels of that opening line. That’s something.
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