Busdriver Beaus$Eros

Busdriver's ninth solo studio album is a fine fit for Fake Four, as their genre-bending hip-hop and open acceptance of rappers singing has given many experimentally-minded MCs the opportunity to flirt with the pop music world. Here, Belgian producer Loden mixes hip-hop, electronica, drum & bass, glitch-hop, synth rock, '80s pop and anything else he can get his hands on, often moving from one style to another within a single track. His production suits Busdriver's delivery, especially with Busdriver singing on the majority of the tracks. His attempts aren't always good, but his singing is competent (if unusual), done with lots of heart; the love song nature of the album, as hinted at by the title (pronounced "bows & arrows"), lends itself to singing anyway. While it's mostly Busdriver crooning indie rock-style over electronica-inflected '80s synth pop, he does impress with his Gowan-like turn on dark synth-pop number "Colour Wheel" (yep, he used the Canadian spelling!) and on "Feelings," where it sounds like he's using some kind of vocal effect to help get a funky falsetto. Aside from the tracks that really want to be sung, there are three solid rap numbers. "Bon Bon Fire" is a big club jam that's a little bit rough around the edges, until the barbershop harmonies, anyway; "NoBlackNoJewsNoAsians" is a reggae/rap/jungle hybrid that finally sees the return of Busdriver's trademark rapid-fire rap flow; and "Here's To Us" is a relatively straight-forward rap song. After nine albums, it's no wonder Busdriver wants to try new things, and Beaus$Eros yields some positive results while laying the foundation for some interesting future projects. You'd think by now he would know how to write a good hook, though. (Fake Four Inc.)