Beastie Boys Get Back to Basics

The Beastie Boys have gone six years without releasing an album of new material, so these days the group tends to be associated more with the political activism of its Tibetan freedom campaign and the capitalist enterprise of its record and clothing companies than with its music.

Like a good, hard slap, "Hello Nasty" directs your attention back to the dynamic hip-hop that is its core business. That approach makes sense at this point in the trio's career. The Beastie Boys have long since outgrown their initial role as pop's rowdy party crashers, and they stretched their studio and storytelling imaginations about as far as they could go on 1989's landmark "Paul's Boutique." So a dose of fundamentals is in order.

That means exuberant anthems marked by the Beasties' signature New York shouts and flavorful, varied musical backing. Some introspective excursions have the playfully experimental edge of early Mothers of Invention, while a folky contemplation on spiritual questing suggests the Beatles' George Harrison strain.

There's an endearing honesty and lack of guile along with the sheer entertainment value, and if "Hello Nasty" isn't these erstwhile brats' most ambitious moment, it's hard not to get swept up in the momentum of the slamming tracks and fiery raps.


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