Reviews: The Optimen – The Out of Money Experience (Album)

The Optimen are, like many Australian hip hop groups, a venture built on a history of hard work. They released their debut album Boomtown in ’05 and followed it up with extensive touring. 2007 saw the release of The Optimen present Red Tape Renegades Vol1, a  compilation featuring artists from their independent label Red Tape Entertainment. Again, the group hit the road in support of the album – the boys aren’t afraid of a little hard work, and if they are they aren’t showing it.

The group are their own producers, and The Out of Money Experience showcases the talent they possess. The beats are rich and layered, featuring horns, thumpingly effective drums, sampled vocals and fuzzy guitar. The album explodes to life with opener Oh Shit!, featuring a brilliant throw-back funk intro that sounds like a mashup of a James Brown horn section and the beginning of a hard-boiled 70s cop show. Always keeps the same vibe going, with On The Rocks slowing things down for a decidedly effective hip-hop ballad. Rocks is the track that impresses most, a perfectly structured, excellently produced and well-written slow-burn number driven by a bluesy guitar loop, jazzy piano and that aforementioned horn section. Firefighters, a single released in late ’09, features a gut-bustlingly bassy horn section that serves to separate it from the rest of the album while retaining the aesthetic that makes every song so funky and deep and fun to listen to.

The lyrics are solid and the flow of the various members is good. Their performances are fine and the writing oscillates between ‘serviceable’ and ‘clever’. The beats are the true stars of  The Out of Money Experience.

This is a good album. If you like the more sophisticated production of groups like The Funkoars and Muph & Plutonic, this album is for you.

3.5/5


review by Ben Vernel

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