Album Review: The Less You Know, The Better – DJ Shadow
The ever eclectic and highly established DJ Shadow returns with his first full length album in five years. The somewhat aptly titled The Less You Know, The Better keeps up Shadow’s (real name Josh Davis) reputation for having a broad pallet. But despite getting off on a good foot the album begins to run out of steam after the half way mark.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Shadow from first hearing Endtroducing to getting into his mix work with Cut Chemist his choice of samples, varied range of sounds and strong mixing ability has continued to impress me throughout the years. So heading into his first studio LP since 2006’s The Outsider was exciting for me. Granted I wasn’t bowled over by “I Gotta Rokk” or “Def Surrounds Us” but his recent collaboration with Afrikan Boy quite literally left me excited. The first few tracks on TLYKTB generate even more excitement as Davis shifts gears with ease . Starting off with “Back To The Front” which shows off his mastered mixing before moving into the metal heavy “Border Crossing”, old school breakbeat driven hip hop with “Stay The Course” and then “I’ve Been Trying”. With its blues infused Americana the latter is not only an album highlight but a particular favourite of mine. Even though im not the biggest fan of Tom Vek his appearance on Warning Call is another defined string to this albums bow.
However despite having a strong and colourful first half the latter end of The Less You Know is considerably spottier and inconsistent in comparison. The solid cohesion the album starts off with, begins to wear off and tracks become increasingly unstuck. There are a few moments where the record gets a sharp jolt of adrenaline but the momentum soon fizzles out again. Certain parts of the albums laggy second half feel a little too cluttered and unfocused, the previously mentioned Def Surrounds Us with its prolonged seven minute run time is a good example of this.
Its such a shame that this is a clear divided album of two halves because it shows plenty of promise early on. Although its lesser mechanics dont make it a bad album, they do disappointingly prevent The Less You Know from fulfilling its potential.