'Under the Influence' is a competently made album, but 'Train Strain', 'Late Again', 'Our Gaff' and 'Why' are the only pockets of goodness in what is an album over-stuffed with introverted, drug / sex / alcohol / misery soaked tracks. 'Train Strain' is a comedic take on the tube experience. It's bouncy, fuzz bass led production is amazingly catchy and bridges the gap between UK garage and Hip Hop.
'Late Again' is an amusing observation on having to wake up in the morning and Mally's disastrously (and intentionally) bad singing fits the bill perfectly – it gives that really sleepy feeling. 'Our Gaff' is built around a rehash of 'Our House' by Madness and it extols the virtues of being grown but still living at home with Mum. Despite the apparent misery of the situation Malcz still comes with the funnies that I like him for ('On the bed, my Super Ted covers'). 'Why' is a reflective, haunting but beautiful song covering knife crime, council estate life and life in general, his vision of his influence and the afterlife ('I don't believe in God but he might be hearing me'). These four tracks are all ones that I'll listen to again, however the others don't far so well. 'Combat' is not a bad track either.
A total of four tracks here are dedicated to drug talk and whereas our US counterparts usually boast of being the pusher, here we have too many insights into the mind of a user. Yeah, I love Cypress Hill, weed songs were their thing but those are the only weed songs I want to hear. I'm just so tired of hearing tracks about doing illegal substances. 'Jo Snow' is a more interesting take on drugs – Cocaine described as a girl, but again, that idea has been rinsed.
Three more tracks are about a combination of girls and sex and frankly, 'Senorita' and 'Love Game' are disgusting. 'Love at First Sight' is better content-wise but whilst the production is uplifting, the lyrics are pretty basic. 'Party' and 'Drink' are the two drinking / partying songs as the imaginative titles suggest. They also contain liberal sprinklings of drugs and sex, leaving you feeling like you've heard it all before and reminding you why you actually don't enjoy going out on a weekend. 'Mally Malcz' is a combination of everything that is bad about this album (see the last paragraph).
The press release claims that Mally Malcz and Joas have left their garage roots behind. Not so, they maybe in the process of doing so but at the moment they come across as a slightly more credible Oxide and Neutrino (just listen to '2 Stepz Ahead' and compare it to this). As I said this is COMPETENTLY done and I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who want to hear a lot of generic tracks about marijuana, misogyny and getting mashed.
If you can find a place to download this then I would absolutely recommend that you get 'Train Strain', 'Late Again', 'Our Gaff', 'Why' and 'Combat' because these are great tracks. When Mally and Joas begin work on their next project I'd like to hear a focus on some more original concepts, some more lyrical lyrics and whilst they should retain their tunefulness they should work on making the production that bit more Hip Hop if that is the market they are aiming at. They've got the business model right: Great artwork, physical product and internet marketing and they've certainly got the work ethic right and for a first effort there is a whole lot of promise on 'Under the Influence'.