By: Evan Townsend
Vokab Kompany, a seven-piece San Diego crew, continues to elude definition. Still riding high on the success of 2009’s New Kong (San Diego's Best Hip Hop Album of 2010), Vokab Kompany released its third full-length album in April. Quit Sleep is a volatile ride that whips from genre to genre too fast to safely be pegged down to one.
In true Vokab style, the latest release features a slew of characters from as many styles. Return guests include Radioactive and Karen Mills, who lend MC skills and vocals, respectively. Among the new additions is Lincoln Parish, guitarist of Cage the Elephant. An odd choice for any other hip-hop-centric outfit, Vokab Kompany manages to work guitar in without fear of contrived results.
The album opener “Wake Up” pulls a steep drop into some of Vokab Kompany’s greatest strength—layers of contrasting gritty and melodic synth topped with witty rambling. “Wake Up” gives the momentum that provides for a consistently dynamic album.
Several cuts throughout the album foster the same style of unabashed intensity. From “Gunslinger,” whose expansive, rolling hooks echo the Old West inspired lyrics, to the pitched brooding of “Ridin’ My Bike.”
The starry-eyed “Take You to Space” seems an obvious standout track; rich and vivid in scope and passion. Tinkling piano and Parish’s soulful guitar blend smoothly with the MCing of permanent band members Robert Gallo and Burke Baby.
The album takes a sharp left turn with the soothing electro-funk “Bright Lights.” This slower but equally unrestrained side of Vokab’s vibrancy sets the mood for the rest of the album. Random Rab’s unhurried remix of 2010 indie-pop single “So Bright” and the lilting title track continue in this mellow strain.
Quit Sleep serves as a fitting follow-up for New Kong. Vokab Kompany has managed to make another album chock-full of new styles without alienating their audience. In fact, they do quite the opposite. Vokab Kompany has found a range of undeniable danceability and inescapable catchiness outside of cookie-cutter pop.
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