Hokey Fright

Aesop Rock's opening verse on "Delicate Cycle," the third single from Uncluded's Hokey Fright, is a thicket of rhymed spondees that is maybe about having parts of your body amputated. Then Kimya Dawson, the former member of The Moldy Peaches who is the other half of Uncluded, chimes in with a verse about working in her parents' laundromat, and the whole thing snaps into focus.

That's Uncluded in a nutshell: Dawson is as modest and evocative as Aesop is ambitious and baffling. The two do not so much complement each other as take turns offering respites, the way coming up for air complements a long swim.

Lyrically, Dawson and Aesop function as counterpoints to each other's styles, but musically, the match is less intuitive. Hip-hop and weirdo folk guitar emphasize different beats in an immutably technical sense, and the compromise between the forms makes Hokey Fright something of an interesting failure. Dawson and Aesop have similar sensibilities, but the logistics of combining their approaches have muted both. Whether you consider Uncluded a Dawson side project or an Aesop Rock side project depends on your musical background, but fans of each artist will have to work to like them together.

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