Ninja High School - Young Adults Against Suicide
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Ninja High School
Young Adults Against Suicide

Tomlab has to be one of the most strange labels around. They've released outstanding albums from the likes of The Books, Tujiko Noriko, and Patrick Wolf, and they've dropped some seriously mediocore ones as well with fairly bland work from Mantler and The Phenomenological Boys. In terms of genres, they're completely all over the board as well, and Ninja High School only adds to their odd roster with indie white kid hip-hop created by an art school dropout and several of his friends.

If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, than you're probably at least partially correct in your assumptions. Despite attempts at tackling difficult subjects lyrically, the group comes across as basically a semi-sloppy batch of music by a bunch of friends just trying to get together and have a little bit of fun. "Good Morning" opens the album and it's a good idea of what you'll get as repetitive electronic loops ramble while spoken-word samples sputter out. "Jam Band Death Cult" is a little more fun, as a dancey backing instrumental collage bursting with horns is MCed over by a a whole slew of people who go from frantic shoutouts to almost barbershop-style harmonies.

For every decent track, there are at least a couple that are either too amateurish or downright bratty to override it. "Positive Laser" is about as stupid as can be, but the group somehow rams some New Order samples together in a nice way for backing instrumentation while "By Purpose, Not By Plan" yoinks the bassline from "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)" from Talking Heads. In other words, the best tracks from the group are barely-changed work from others, and you still have to deal with their over-the-top vocals and slipshod sampler production style.

I'll admit that I might just be getting a bit cranky as I get older and this stuff just doesn't appeal to me anymore, but if the group is trying to make some sort of ironic statement, a sloppy electronic/acapella cover of Harry Belafonte's "Day-O" (called "Nap") isn't going to convince me of much. If I want to hear something where a load of people are having a blast and making a racket by smashing styles together and singing silly songs, I'm gonna reach for The Go! Team. They're probably just as irreverent, but they're not nearly as annoying.

rating: 3.7510
Aaron Coleman 2005-10-20 18:45:52