Manors! There is no-one like B… etc.
Michaela Drapes: There’s a certain Les Miserables meets the Sex Pistols meets The Streets meets, yes, The Wall thing going on here that’s kind of undeniable. So some of the lyrics are a bit hackneyed and overdone in places, but the overall effect just works somehow, thanks to the big booming fuck the world production (those sawing strings and perfectly-placed breakbeat!) and Plan B’s malicious, snotty puns.
Brad Shoup: Scene-setting a la “No Place Like London,” with only a bit of irony added. (The second-verse sideways glance at Kaiser Chiefs’ “I Predict a Riot” could certainly change the tone, if you let it.) Wholesale appropriation of “Alles Neu” aside, the effect is more Peter and the Test Tube Babies than Peter Fox. It may seem like I don’t care for it, but “Ill Manors” does boast that killer second verse, and the arresting Shostakovichian string slash nearly sells me on Mr. Drew’s suddenly-claimed spokesman status. It’s not Sham, but I can always use something similar.
Iain Mew: Over a string loop similar to Brown Eyed Girls’ “Sixth Sense” and some clod-hopping drum’n'bass, Plan B goes back to rap mode for some class warfare satire about the real and perceived state of Britain today. He covers a lot of ground and anyone who has been here for the last few years will get a certain buzz of recognition with each of the references: hugging hoodies, dubious etymologies for the word ‘chav’, shanks, looting and Luton, “broken Britain”. Oh, and two Kaiser Chiefs songs, hung around the lines “What did that chief say?/Something about the Kaisers”, which is even worse than the pun of the song title. That starts to illustrate the song’s problems. Its range is at the expense of specificity beyond the buzzwords and almost nothing is handled anything other than clumsily, lyrically and musically. The moment the song builds to a shout of “You can’t put us all in prison!” is the only time that the anger boils over into something that suggests it could have done a lot more.
Alfred Soto: Apparently no engineer noticed how disgracefully the percussion was mixed around, between, and in front of the vocal — “there’s a charge for congestion” indeed. Also, I can’t understand the ire aimed at “rich kids” (is that what the “oi!” is for?). Plan B will be a rich kid soon enough. So he hopes.
Katherine St Asaph: Though this works slightly less well as a song than a rebuttal to last year’s “where are all the protest songs?” caviling (if you’re actually doing this, probably want to skip past the “concrete jungle” line), a lot can be done with the right sample: here, one that at least twenty Brit School kids wish they removed from the market.
Zach Lyon: This swipes the beat from “Alles Neu” by Peter Fox, which was unimpeachable — a solid , for sure — largely because Fox’s intensity and momentum matched those strings and drums perfectly, and his hardcore posturing is much less groansome than this little Brit’s tired imitation of every other white Brit rapper burbling about the nations’ angry youth. Listen to that instead.