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Rhythm & Views

The Beastie Boys

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In the nearly three decades the Beastie Boys have been a going concern, they've punched out some seminal discs in the rap/punk/hip-hop idioms.

On the all-instrumental The Mix-Up, you might excuse the Boys for being less than stellar. Even Barry Bonds doesn't hit a homer every day, no matter what's mixed up in his Wheaties.

The Mix-Up comes across like a pause, as if the Beasties are simply waiting for the next big thing to come upon them.

That's not to say this new offering is a disaster. The grooves are solid if not monumental. A funky, propulsive beat permeates, laced with a healthy sampling of bouncy organ lines. It's damn good background music, but nothing to sink your teeth into.

The main problem with The Mix-Up is that the Boys are not a practiced improv band, and their melodies are too tightly wound for any significant stretching out. Often it seems as though they're in a hurry to get back to the chorus that never comes.

There are a couple of successes that point to what this could have been. "The Rat Cage" feels complete as a musical idea and is the rare cut where you're not waiting for the vocal to kick in. "Suco de Tangerina," a playful bit of Brazilian lounge funk, features a slick, one-off sensibility combined with some plucky humor.

All in all, it's doubtful the Boys fretted over any of these tracks. A band this good could knock out these jams in a weekend. If The Mix-Up took much longer than that, then perhaps there is cause for concern.

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