Beast, Beast (Verve Forecast)

We're just gonna come clean about this album: We love it. It's full of fat beats and buzzy synths, and it makes us feel dirty—in a good way.
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An unexpected dirty electro-rock-rap-soul-jazz delight
Montreal-based Beast—the duo of drummer/composer/producer Jean-Phi Goncalves (also leader of the band Plaster) and vocalist Betty Bonifassi—has perfected the art of the genre blend with the group''s self-titled debut album. Goncalves and Bonifassi have managed to expertly weave electronic, rock, rap, soul and jazz into a surprisingly catchy listen. First track “Devil” opens with Bonifassi''s pretty, haunting wails, giving way to an incredibly funky beat, dirty bass and warbling, buzzy synth stabs. Bonifassi begins her aggressive raps, delivering her words like a prizefighter delivers carefully orchestrated punches. This song (and the album in general) is Bonifassi''s first foray into rapping, but you''d never know it because she sounds like a highly seasoned pro; she is, in a word, awesome. She fluctuates between rapping and singing throughout the album (both of which she does quite well), sounding like a bizarre cross between Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse (but better). “Finger Prints” starts with a relentless, bubbling bass line atop gritty synths and a heavy beat, adding an incredibly catchy guitar hook about midway through the track. “Microcyte” adds pretty, tinkly piano interludes between Bonifassi''s raps over a pulsating, sinister bass line. From the sound of it, Goncalves and Bonifassi seem to naturally work well together, bringing out of the best of each other. Tight production coupled with a quirky singer makes this album totally infectious and one of the best efforts of 2009 thus far. [4 out of 5 stars]