Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson join forces as The Uncluded on their new LP Hokey Fright, and the result is not unlike Batman and Superman using their individual superpowers to save the day. Each of these artists is unique and has established his or her own unmistakable style of music. Aesop, with his skillful yet often complex word play, and Dawson, with her distinct guitar playing and penchant for clever allegories, combine to create a sound that this world may not be ready for.
On Hokey Fright‘s opening song, “Kryptonite,” Dawson’s guitar and singing start off followed by Aesop joining in, similar to the structure the Moldy Peaches employed with Dawson and Adam Green. Following is “Delicate Cycle,” which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Aesop rhymes over lightly strummed guitar chords while Dawson describes the laundromat she visited as a child. “My whole life is a delicate cycle,” she explains, which not only describes the feelings of these two wondering souls but encompasses the emotional state of a generation.
Most of the subject matter is pretty deep, but both of these seasoned veterans know how to mix heart-jarring narratives with enough playfulness that one isn’t left with feelings of complete despair at the end of the voyage. “Scissorhands” discusses what it would be like to have hands like Tim Burton’s Edward while “Organs” is a more somber tune touching on the theme of organ donation. Ending the album is the jam “Tits Up,” a good old-fashioned hip hop track. Electric drums mixed with early video game 8-bit bleeps keep the rhythm while Aesop and Dawson have a little fun on the mic; you can almost hear them smiling.
Hokey Fright shows a softer side of Aesop Rock while allowing Dawson to do what she does best– delivering honest, almost childlike lyrics. On first listen it’s a lot to take in, but after a few plays it’s hard to stop. This collection of tracks is proof that the streets of this musical Metropolis is safe with these two as guardians.