If the claims about southeast London’s Pest were true, we’d be doing Scrooge McDuck backstrokes in riotboy rock, techno theater, NASCAR psychedelia and the sort of anti-feudal futuristic beats only found after a quest-drugging afternoon spent with peanut-butter men and deodorant. But they’re not. And we’re left with a shakily orthodox debut of DJ Shadow-styled big brail hip-hop sort-of-experiments.
Pest’s familiarity is uncomfortable. From “Slap on Tap” and its shuffleboard jazz-funk to the upbeat eeriness and computer-error bleeps of “Murda,” “Heard Yer Bird Moved In” and “Chicken Spit,” Necessary Measures is an interesting if disappointingly harmless exercise in smile-capable old-school dance music. Write rare-groove-stuck-in-a-door-hinge ten times fast and you’re close. It’s Bentley Rhythm Ace/Avalanches without the sugar high. Or Ninja Tune music theory professionally assimilated into the rebellious coolness of electro structure and San Francisco noise.
There are moments of eclectic sharpness, particularly when Pest stutter with the hardcore scene’s obscured sense of humor. The lack of obvious pop lit samples keeps you twitching and “Dr Umz” clanks like a fat mouse on a piano until enough club elements are tossed in — clipped beats, squinny bass, wet speed-rap — to neurotically morph into the most vicious/entertaining volley over the wall of two-step since Squarepusher’s “My Red Hot Car.”
Otherwise, we’ve heard all this before — which may or may not be important.