Got my drink and my two-step
Photo by Matt Handy
Summer is for sequels. From Batman to Hellboy to The Mummy and even to Hamlet, everywhere you turn there's new chapters to old stories. Not to be outdone, Girl Talk is joining in the spirit of the season with a sequel all his own. Sure, Feed The Animals doesn't technically carry that designation, just like Amnesiac wasn't officially called Kid B, but it's pretty clear we're getting a tried-and-true formula here. Sample upon sample engineered for maximum nostalgia, disparate genres gleefully mashed together, the old-school and new bumping heads like a dysfunctional family reunion.
But is that enough? While The Dark Knight brilliantly built new ground on Batman Begins' foundation and hey, at least The Mummy's moving to China, what is Gregg Gillis' new album offering that Night Ripper didn't? (Even his pay-what-you-want release strategy is pretty much a Radiohead redux.) The main (and inevitable) difference here is he's updating us on the last two years of music, reminding us that oh yeah, "Roc Boys" and "Umbrella" were big songs last year. Because his last album was such a pivotal development, I was hoping for something equally singular this time around. Instead, Feed The Animals feels a little too easy, an album that could've just as convincingly been made by a Girl Talk enthusiast.
Of course, the counterargument is that none of that really matters. The point is to have fun, to dance, and to rock out to all the big beats and wacky juxtapositions. Dr. Dre and Styx!? Lil Mama and Metallica!!?! When I disconnect my music-critic circuitry, and just enjoy the songs as songs, it is a helluva lot of fun. And ignoring the existence of Night Ripper and the idea that artists should be continual innovators, it is really well done. Gillis has retained his talent for pairing and paring, and few musicians in any genre can match him in sounding so full-on joyous.
For me, the far-and-away best demonstration of that is "Still Here," a perfect four-minute introduction to Girl Talk at his best. There's so much that works about the track, but just some of its choicest features: the torch-passing tête-à-tête of "No Diggity" and "Flashing Lights," the trunk-rattling "oh shit" snippet from "London Bridge," and the brilliantly bizarre union of The Band and Yung Joc. However, none of that touches its very best moment arriving at 2:10. When Ace of Base's "All That She Wants" collides with "My Drink n My 2 Step" by Cassidy featuring Swizz Beatz, it's pretty much incredible. It's thrilling, fresh and so much better together than either of those shitty songs separately. Even if Feed The Animals does somewhat disappoint as a whole, that moment achieves exactly what a sequel should: it leaves me really excited to see what's coming up next.
* MP3: "Still Here" - Girl Talk from Feed The Animals [Buy it]