Coming on like the high-kickin' cheerleaders of the indie-hop world, you're unlikely to hear a cheerier hip-hop record this year. Like The Go! Team, Toronto collective Ninja High School weigh in with brass sections, street party sensibilities and a sense of sonic distance, as though the entire record, save the vocals, were recorded thirty feet from their microphones. Their modus operandi, however, takes in a heavy dose of daisy-age rap and a surreal approach to samples - summon from the depths of your mind The Avalanches, wipe the bad memories from your cerebral cortex, and picture a brighter world in the seemingly distant and fictional past where said fuckers might have replaced contrivance with arbitrarity.
The problem is, ploughing through Young Adults Against Suicide is like grocery shopping in a sweet shop. 'Feverish Dreams', born with the line "I wanna crucify Ian Mackaye", the Chilly Gonzales styling of 'By Purpose Not By Plan' and potential indie-disco classic 'Shake It Off' with its insistently shuffling beats and ear-shattering 16-second James Brown-esque wail that bisects and completely recontextualises the whole song, are all chunks of eccentric, refreshing genius, but they flounder in the cloying mass of treacle that creeps across the record. After repeated listening, toothache ensues.
'Positive Laser' blemishes Young Adults Against Suicide woefully, being less a blip than a fat-handed magnification of the weaker aspects of the entire record. "Bad feelings out / Good feelings in / We built a big gun so we can realise our goals / ...Posi-tive la-ser you're our friend": sellotape such excruciating lyrics, shouted en masse, to the pogostick instrumental cartoonery beneath them, and witness Ninja High School at their worst; eye-wateringly gauche, and best suited to a presenting stint on Playdays. It lets down the charm of their formidable buoyancy and their obvious talent for sonic collage; they're at their most interesting when revelling in bombastic beats and unexpected sounds.
It's by and large a likeable record, and its juxtaposition of manic, sugar-OD tantrum-noise and oh-so-cute positive sentimentalism works throughout, but next time round, a little more of the intrepid musical sophistication they're clearly capable of and a little less of the shouty-shouty wouldn't go amiss; as it is, Young Adults Against Suicide is fun but two-dimensional.
6Gen Williams's Score