Sound — 8
Tom Morello is more like a DJ than a guitarist, in terms of how he handles his axe. He utilizes his instrument in a transformative way. His use of white noise allows his guitar to make turntable-style sounds and that's been his signature since Rage Against the Machine burst into the hard rock scene's consciousness in the early 1990s. Morello retains his hallmark hellion sound on Street Sweeper Social Club, while vocalist Boots Riley has frontman qualities that are not dissimilar to RATM's Zack de la Rocha, thanks to his impassioned delivery and how deftly he drops politically charged lyrical science. Therefore, Street Sweeper Social Club has more in common with RATM than Morello's post-RATM project, the much more commercial and much less Fight the Power! Audioslave. Morello still treats his guitar like DJ equipment, cranking out ballistic, bottom heavy riffery that'll get your blood pumping and your head bobbing. 100 Little Curses is a battle ready tune, thanks to its chorus, a smattering of auto-tuned vocals and Morello's neo-bluesy riffs while Clap for the Killers electrifies.
Lyrics — 8
Riley raps. He gets under your skin and into your mind, offering his perspective on a panoply of socially-aware topics. Fight! Smash! Win! is anthemic, boasting groove and rhythmic cadence. While Riley doesn't scream till the veins in his neck bulge like de la Rocha did, his rhymes still convey a boatload of emotion and are vivid with imagery. He does drop plenty of pop culture references, to things like smoking trees, Dolce & Gabbana and Rodeo Drive, throughout the album, which aids in lightening the mood a tad. But there's also plenty of calls to arms, invitations to throw your fists in the air and make a difference. Not one ounce of space is wasted on Street Sweeper Social Club, an album that proves music can be a vehicle for change as much as it can be that which gets your body moving. Morello and Riley want you to pay attention and the rapped lyrics are like warheads aimed at the very cause: capturing your mind, infesting your body and forcing you to think, without bashing you over the head.
Overall Impression — 8
While Street Sweeper Social Club may pay homage to an era gone by, when the mixing of rap and metal was fresh, the album (and the band) have an incendiary, revolutionary tone. The music is modern rather than dated because Riley is a rapper through and through; he's not depositing rapped vocals here and there. It's all he does, which laces the album with that fetching urban flair! It's an inspiring record that not only gets you dancing but it also stimulates your brain, too. Thankfully, Riley has a playful style at times, which prevents the album from ever feeling preachy, as RATM sounded from time to time. Morello and Riley possess chemistry in spades, and the duo is not afraid to rock on Street Sweeper Social Club. If you're still eagerly anticipating a full-bore Rage Against the Machine reunion, Street Sweeper Social Club will be a worthwhile endeavor, as it follows said band's spirit in a thoroughly modern way.