By Patrick Dalziel (@JoyDscvryPaddy)
This September there will be another Die Antwoord record, supposedly their final. Sadly this is an enticing prospect for all of the wrong reasons, especially if first single Love Drug is anything to go by. Whilst never exactly being noted for their subtlety, their first three albums were genuinely fun experiences. They had an energy, a sense of presence, that made them incredibly enjoyable to binge on. You could easily lose hours in the twisted exuberance of their Zef style as Yolandi Visser and Ninja created their vibrant, violent world around you.
The sad fact of the matter, however, is Love Drug sounds nothing like these early works in any way. This isn’t hating on a band trying something new, though, rather this is just the sad realisation that the duo may be past their best. The beat, produced by Die Antwoord in-house DJ “GOD“, just barely survives until the finish line, faltering in a manner that’s incredibly incoherent with his usual meticulously considered output. To put it in context of just how disappointing this is, the band just released an instrumental album based off his work and it is genuinely brilliant. The usual eccentric and darkly playful nature of his work shines on the early albums but is never even attempted here.
It feels like a song very haphazardly thrown together. Several elements fail to click together in any conceivable way, and the vocals can’t even save it, mainly because they’re some of the worst the South African rap duo have ever written. It’s adolescent to a fault and shows none of the self-awareness that’s usually present. By the end of the song, it honestly just dissolves into who can awkwardly cram more expletives into their lines which perhaps is the wrong thing to be criticising this particular band for (especially when songs such as Evil Boy exist) but even then, Evil Boy comes across as incredibly nuanced in comparison. The sense of rhythm throughout gives it a natural sense of progression, with each layer added breathing new life into the song which, again, is something which never happens in Love Drug.
Instead, we’re given a barely competent verse from Yolandi Visser, before being rushed through the forgettable chorus and ending with the song’s last insult. An unbelievable poor verse from the usually very competent Ninja. His usual visceral energy is nowhere to be found here, instead, he just sounds incredibly bored. There’s no flow to his lines whatsoever, and it frankly just sounds like he doesn’t want to be there at all.
Love Drug stands as the worst thing Die Antwoord have ever released. It’s a true shame, given the band’s usual extravagance and style but here, everything feels misjudged: the verses are weak, the chorus bland and the backing uncharacteristically poor. Do yourself a favour and listen to Donker Mag and Ten$ion for the DA experience, because this love drug is definitely just placebo.