the gang really does well with no handlebars …
Flobots, the hip-hop/rock alternative outfit which burst onto the scene with the infectious single “Handlebars” is back on the scene with their latest track, ‘Bradley Manning.’
Lauren Stern: The last time we heard from Flobots, they were boasting about their bike riding skills, so it was really interesting to see them create a song about a serious and controversial political issue. “Bradley Manning” itself is pretty solid; the beat is pretty catchy for such a serious song and the raps flow well with the tone, but this is no hit single like “Handlebars” once was back in the day. It’s nice that Flobots are doing their part in raising awareness to the Bradley Manning case, but lets face it: this is one of those songs that will be forgotten in a matter of time, despite how great it is sonically. Verdict: Abstain
Nick Porcaro: The latest track from Flobots does seemingly anything to prevent you from paying attention to its lyrics: the beat is bland and unengaging, the vocal panning distracting and the production drenched in amateur-sounding reverb that only muddles the mix. Which is a shame, really, because the topic at hand is quite important. Bradley Manning is an Army soldier currently charged with aiding the enemy by having leaked information to WikiLeaks concerning misconduct on the field, though the case runs deeper than any cursory summary. Flobots must have realized their mistakes by the time the bridge shows up, as Manning’s name is repeated at least 16 times, but by that point its too late. The band’s intentions are righteous, sure, but their execution is too far off to recommend this track. Verdict: One and done.
Jason Stives: For their latest single, Flobots have chosen to tackle a subject way bigger than their music itself. Bradley Manning is an important name in the news right now and while being bold enough to discuss him in a single is definitely a way to get noticed it leaves the music greatly in the background. Beyond just the unnecessary repetition “Bradley Manning” as a song doesn’t hook the way it could. The production feels sluggish and not even a smidge vibrant enough to catch the listener’s ear as verse runs almost without care into the lazy chorus. I wouldn’t go as far to say that there wasn’t something of interest here because there was. The groove feels right but it never takes off and you are left with a track whose message and overall attempts at radio appeal are left on the sidelines looking for a way to be a little more interesting. Verdict: One and done.
Bill Bodkin: I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I absolutely hated Flobots first single, “Handlebars.” I could write an essay about how much this song makes me want to me want to burn my soul. So I’m a bit surprised that I actually enjoyed “Bradley Manning.” I liked the vocal cadence, the flow, the beats — it all worked for me. However, it doesn’t have a staying power with me. It’s not a song I want to add to a playlist but it does pique my interest in the rest of their record. Maybe I’ll bury the hatchet on this band and become a Flobots fan. So in that respect, “Bradley Manning” did its job as a lead single. However, as a track I want to add to my playlist, this does not make the cut. Verdict: One and Done.
Final Verdict: Sorry Flobots, we just couldn’t get behind this track like most of the crew did with “Handlebars.”