When a band has been around for more than 30 years, it’s often because it’s (a) continued to evolve, (b) been mining one song or album repeatedly, (c) developed a cult following that will pay to see it no matter what or (d) is too stubborn to go away. And if you’re the Beastie Boys, you’ve done all of the above and then some.
On “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2” (amazingly, only the venerable N.Y.C. trio’s eighth full-length record), the Beasties’ weird, wise-cracking spirit shines brighter than it has in years. And if that spirit is no longer groundbreaking or even particularly original, the top five or six tracks here are on par with the band’s best work.
The fat synth line that opens “Make Some Noise” rides atop a no-frills beat and announces the trio will be playing to its familiar strengths: a sinewy rap-rock concoction stirred by distinctive, overlapping voices. The band stretches the formula taut on the brawny “Too Many Rappers” (featuring Nas) and “Say It,” which seesaws on creaky guitar feedback. The most effective flavoring to the core Beastie recipe, though, comes from dub: “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” is a scintillating duet with Santigold (and the record’s best track), while “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament” is slithering and spooky — one of the band’s best-ever instrumentals.
The boys get lost a few times along the way, and the flat second track, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” is actually cringe-inducing. But at its heart — “Long Burn the Fire,” featuring a stirring turn from Adam Yauch, who was treated for cancer during the making of the album — the Beastie formula sounds vibrant, cohesive and, yeah, still saucy.
“Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win (featuring Santigold)”, ”Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament,” “Long Burn the Fire”