THE COUP - MAGIC CLAP
Anthony Easton: Holy fuck, why are we getting this in October and not in June — partying as a political maneuver (the immaculate line “for homeland security, we are the bomb”), the exhorting voice that no longer takes itself seriously, the best singalong chorus all year, and that recursive hallway of pure hand-clapping joy. Fantastic!
Brad Shoup: I have good friends who swear by Party Music, but I’m one of those people who laments the message outstripping the compositions, which makes me part of the problem, right? No problem here, though; the track’s as intense as Stankonia-era OutKast (“.45 shells that’ll dance to the beats/Stomachs so loud it’ll cancel the speech” is a fine update of “75 MCs freestyling to the beat”). The sawing accordion delivers the populist weight to support Riley’s endless stream of quotables (“notarized lies that burst in triplicate” is my fav). A sweaty, assured triumph.
Jonathan Bogart: Despite the Coup’s deserved reputation for polemicism, their music has always been as much about forwarding the revolution through funk as through ideology. “Magic Clap” puts that funk front and center, Pam the Funkstress shouting like Cyntha Robinson over a Family Stone-worthy groove while Boots doesn’t so much let politics take a back seat to good times as politicizes good times (or perhaps good-timizes politics).
Alfred Soto: I expect a song with this title to sound like it’s going to sound like a party: an embrace of its literalism and its figurative possibilities (it’s better than “Sexy Syphilis”). The weed-hoarse singing and rhythm tracks are a triumph but it’s still rather staid, as if these fellas heard the Black Keys and were awed by them.
Josh Langhoff: Spiky and chunky, and the “Let’s go!” chant at the beginning has trouble lining up with the beat. Boots Riley rarely settles for easy grooves. Don’t know whether that’s for reasons of political metaphor (I doubt he has many free evenings), but he usually comes up with beats I’ve never heard before, so I won’t complain. Amid all the pogoing, escalating accordion, heavy guitar and fuzz bass, and sometimes confusing sloganeering (don’t all those nitwits carping about “anchor babies” also claim “the fourteenth is a broke amendment”?) comes this wonderfully down-to-earth couplet: “Morning prayers for the car to start / A man and a whiskey in a heart-to-heart.” Been there.
Will Adams: Those claps aren’t magic, they’re programmed. And the “Saturday Night” reference isn’t either: it’s misplaced. These negatives should be overlooked, however, in favor of the real magic: Boots’ impeccable delivery of a captivating narrative.
Edward Okulicz: The title alludes to the track’s clumsiest feature — the rhythm of “Magic Clap” doesn’t need clapping because it gallops and sways best when there’s less getting in the way of the brilliant fuzz-bassline.
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