Richard Ashcroft: The United Nations of Sound (Razor & Tie) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Richard Ashcroft

The United Nations of Sound

Razor & Tie

Apr 05, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie Bookmark and Share

Fifteen minutes into The United Nations of Sound, even the most casual of music consumers will ask themselves, "Is this guy kidding?" Then of course you'll remember that you're listening to a Richard Ashcroft record, someone who has never had much of a sense of humor about anything. Even when he says things like "I can probably fly" in interviews, it doesn't appear that he's being ironic. And so, yeah, we're supposed to take Ashcroft's latest album as seriously as the Britpop icon takes himself. Some critics and listeners probably feel compelled to give him the benefit of the doubt because he recruited hip-hop producer No I.D. (Jay-Z, Kanye West) and engineer Reggie Dozier (OutKast, Stevie Wonder) for The United Nations of Sound, but why? That collaboration sounds like a terrible idea, just like the preposterous title of the album.

The results are as mixed as one would expect when a rock icon who's pushing 40 wakes up one morning and decides he wants to make a soulish/funkish/gospelish record. Half-baked songs aside, it's baffling that gentlemen as talented as No I.D., Dozier, and Ashcroft could make a brand new album sound so immediately dated. It really does resonate with the worst parts of the '90s and it's nowhere near as fun. The romp and stomp album-opener "Are You Ready" starts off kinda sexy but runs its course halfway through its tedious six-minute length. Thankfully, Lil Wayne was not able to accept his invitation to appear (courtesy of his prison sentence) on the mega weird and almost-hip-hop "America," where he was slated to ask, "What the fuck do you know about America?"

While Ashcroft should be applauded for trying something entirely new, TUNOS is overly eager to please, overly stylized, and falls way short of honoring the genres for which Ashcroft clearly cares deeply. (

Author rating: 3/10

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