The Katz Meow: Death Grips

The Katz Meow: Death Grips

Crowding around a New York City payphone at 3 a.m., then going home and losing yourself in deep web Internet searches isn’t normal, but on Death Grips it is.

Since the 2011 release of their “Exmilitary” mixtape, the Sacramento (loosely branded) alternative hip-hop trio has been pushing fans to those limits with their dark, forward-thinking sound and lawless attitudes.

They’re a commanding influence on Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” they’re the most important musicians of this decade and they’re trying to snatch our perceptions of what hip-hop can do, then drop us on our heads.

Having already demonstrated their best efforts with last year’s “The Money Store,” there was no pressure to create anything perfect on the spontaneous Nov. 13 release “Government Plates,” the group’s third album.

From the sound of the album, they weren’t striving for anything close to that. It’s got a raw and unrefined sound that, for the most part, is pretty aimless.

Because the majority of the record is supposedly made up of tracks that didn’t make the cut for either of their 2012 albums, and lack of a physical release has lead to speculation that this album could be a soundtrack for drummer Zach Hill’s film project, the aimlessness doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Many of these songs didn’t fit the ballot of other releases, so it’s clear the band intended on branching out and servicing a new approach than what they’ve tried historically.

There are still traces of the aggressive, tough-to-swallow subject matter, but in pushing vocalist Stefan Burnett to the backburners to make space for more electronic and percussive sounds from Andy Morin and Zach Hill, the majority of that impact has been lost.

Stylistically, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it comes to mind. Personally, I’m happy to see a shift to more electronic influences, but hopefully it’s not a permanent switch — I could see myself losing interest if Death Grips continues on this tangent.

The meat and potatoes of this album is composed of inconsistencies and filler, but given how memorably strong it starts and finishes, I still have love for Death Grips after “Government Plates.”

It’s no crowd pleaser, but if you’re willing to salvage the loose ends on this one, there’s still a ton of fun to be had.

“Government Plates” can be found for free on Death Grips’ website,