Three years after prioritising Knife Party over Pendulum, electronic dance duo Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen have released their first album, Abandon Ship, after a succession of EPs.
Initially Knife Party was a side project to the hugely successful Pendulum band, however in mid-2011 Swire and McGrillen switched their efforts solely to the former. The pair have been noticeably satirical in interviews and on social media, helping their popularity rise since their inception. Questioned whether having the name Knife Party inferred no objection to knife crime, Swire replied “…we’re not advocating any type of knife-related crime any more than Swedish House Mafia were advocating organised crime.”
Knife Party, in their three previous EPs, did have some major radio airtime with songs such as ‘Internet Friends’, ‘Centipede’ and most notably ‘Bonfire’, with the latter even featuring on the hugely successful Breaking Bad series.
Abandon Ship keeps the tempo and craziness of these popular singles, as the tracks ‘Resistance and ‘Boss Mode’ show in abundance. These tracks, released to the public in the weeks before the album’s release, give that classic Knife Party feel – a strong start to the record. The track ‘404’ is another belter, one of the highlights of the album for me, combining different sub-genres of the electro-dance theme in so many ways but linking it all together in a flowing manner. This song is destined to be the next to get radio airtime, with Zane Lowe publicly a massive backer of Knife Party – with Abandon Ship his album of the week at its release.
Now, being a Pendulum superfan, its been too long since Rob Swire’s vocals have been heard on a new song, so the inclusion of the anthemic ‘Begin Again’ is just brilliant. Swire’s trademark vocals complement the backing track and build/drop perfectly, but it does highlight their past, more specifically their Pendulum days, a surprising decision but I for one love it.
The second half of the album is very different to the first, with experimental sounds and combinations dominating proceedings. The, err, song ‘Micropenis’ (yes you read that right) is possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard – seemingly written about a guy who wakes in the morning to surprisingly find he has a ‘Micropenis’. It’s so weird in fact that I can’t decide whether I like the song or not, the jury is still out on that one. ‘Superstar’ might be the worst song I’ve ever heard Knife Party do, with a boring drop and an annoying vocal not doing justice to the experience and musical talent Swire/McGrillen possess.
However, just when the record feels like it’s starting to peter out, the penultimate track ‘Red Dawn’ brings that feel good factor back, with a characteristic irrepressible riff lasting long in the mind – it actually made me forget about the ‘fillers’ before hand. Sorry to use the P word again, but the final track also reminds me of their Pendulum roots. The emotive and reflective sounds give the same impressions to me as ‘Encoder’ from Immersion (Pendulum’s last studio album) and I absolutely love it. A fitting end to their debut album.
The main objective of Knife Party was for Swire and McGrillen to experiment and create different sounds in a new project that wouldn’t affect their Pendulum successes. This album definitely meets these requirements, with the first half absolutely smashing them. The middle tracks are disappointing, but they are made up for by the final two which redeems the albums status as one of my favourite of the year. Despite how good this album is though, it still feels like the original side project and I wish Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen would get back to Pendulum where they belong – pigs would have to fly first though!
Abandon Ship is out now via iTunes, and is released on the 24th November via Earstorm and Big Beat records.