P.O.S. - We Don’t Even Live Here

If Death Grips are the Sex Pistols then P.O.S. is The Clash - enraged, political, stylistically broader and a lot more eloquent.

Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment

Rating: 8

Hip hop and punk rock. Actually pretty similar? God save the Queen and fuck the police. Two snarls of rage, separated by an ocean and a decade, but once standardised for geographical and temporal differences pretty close in sentiment?

Stefon Alexander, the man behind P.O.S., is a punk rocker. The record does not show if he wears flowers in his hair. He’s also a rapper. On previous releases (this is his fourth) he’s attempted to blend the two with some degree of success. But here, musically, things have been taken down a different path. There are less cues from the land of mohawks and safety pins; no jarring guitars and few sneery screams of vocals. It is far more obviously hip-hop than any of his earlier releases. But what he has kept is a punk sensibility, there’s a real undertone of seething anger running through ‘We Don’t Live Here’.

Something that seems to be washing around on the fringes of hip-hop at the moment. Indeed, should you be looking are looking for other punky parallels, if Death Grips are the Sex Pistols - nihilistic, visceral, possessing a obscene album cover (literally never minding the bollocks) - then P.O.S. is The Clash - enraged, political, stylistically broader and a lot more eloquent.

‘We Don’t Even Live Here’ is full of great lines. Normally, when people get angry, lucidity is the first casualty, but P.O.S. does pissed off with an astonishing wit. Anyone who can do the anti-materialistic thing (as on ‘Fuck Your Stuff’) referencing both Christopher Hitchens and Wikileaks, while what sounds like someone desperately trying to pack a theremin into a box intones in the background, deserves a huge box of chocolates and a standing ovation.

While he may neglect his inner Rollins, he instead says ‘Hi’ to his inner Berlin clubber. Both Boyz Noise and Ryan Olson of Gayngs (and Poliça) lend a hand, and their contributions help give the album a surprising, techno-tinged, pulse.

The second half is particularly stunning. ‘They Can’t Come’ is tense, sparse and subtle. You’d keep imagining that the ever ratcheting tension will soon get released, but it simply isn’t. It rides all the way into ‘Lockpick, Knives, Bricks And Bats’ which maintains the horror movie sense of apprehension before finally the drums snap, the elastic breaks and you breathe again.

It is a fine album. Pointed without being preachy, cerebral without being inaccessible and never anything less than thrilling. P.O.S. has squared the circle admirably: ‘We Don’t Even Live Here’ is a hip-hop record with a punk-rock heart.