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After attracting a lot of attention for last year’s stellar mixtape Exmilitary, the debut album from Death Grips is certainly highly anticipated. The trio’s brand of raw, stark and startling hip-hop combines the innovative sounds of Flying Lotus with the glorious terror that put Tyler, The Creator and OFWGKTA on the map last year. These stylings continue on The Money Store –distorted, doom-laden and aggressive, tracks such as Hustle Bones and Double Helix don’t mess with a proven method. However, the production is undeniably beefier and slicker, and many of the tracks are a lot busier than previous ones. This is both a good and a bad thing. Lead singles Get Got and The Fever (Aye Aye) see MC Fire’s menacing voice fused with a barrage of synths and sounds that threaten to overwhelm as much as thrill. On the other hand, last year’s jaw-dropping Guillotine (It Goes Yah) from Exmilitary showed that less can often be more – the minimal beats and blips allowed the awesome rapping to really shine. The lyrical skills are still intact, but whether you deem The Money Store as an evolution in sound or sonic overkill is mostly down to personal preference. Either way, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting or enjoyable hip-hop act in 2012.

*** ½