After a three-year wait, Beans, formerly former member of the recently reunited Anti-Pop Consortium, is back with his forth solo album. After 2007's intensely introspective Thorns, the Brooklyn-based rapper needed to, in his own words, "get out of his head" and looked outside the window for inspiration.

What Beans appears to see when he gazes through the glass is a harsh and unforgiving world. His lyrics are littered with images of death, decay and violence. A brief glance at the track listing sets you up for the bumpy ride ahead. 'Gluetraps', 'Glass Coffins', 'Anvil Falling': everything feels foreboding or ruinous. Pay passing attention to the lyrics and you'd be forgiven for thinking that Brooklyn is in fact the seventh circle of hell. References to degenerative diseases, blood and 'S-curved spines' jump out at you like beasties from a video nasty.

But if Beans was shying from worldly horrors on Thorns and turning in upon himself, his approach on End It All is to puff out his chest and ask the world to take its best shot. While peppered with dark imagery, the album is curiously triumphant in tone. He has a remarkable ability to alchemically balance confessional lyrics and the traditional rap braggadocio. On 'Deathsweater' - the closest thing to a club track this album has to offer - he spends half a verse rapping about radiotherapy, isotopes and uranium but somehow manages to make it sound funky as fuck. On 'Forever Living Fresh' Beans is in celebratory mood, declaring his persistence in this pesky old rap game. On penultimate track 'Hardliner', Beans is "burning bright through centuries / while the audience for most rhymers is facing Alzheimer". The world may decay around him, but he's still fresh as a daisy.

His first album for the Anticon label, this is fittingly his first album to be entirely produced by third parties, paralleling his outreaching approach to subject matter. The beats are lush, rich and textured, but sophisticated enough to allow space for Beans' thick, staccato delivery to take centre stage. He goes as far as to highlight this methodology himself: "a mouthful of multi syllables / usually production is minimal / 'cause what he's saying is critical" ('Deathsweater'). What's more, rather than ending up as a confusing compound of tracks, the collection of individual producers has, by accident or design, delivered an oddly consistent album. Contributions from Four Tet, Nobody and TOBACCO all add the necessary musical punch to the album's lyrical weight, but the highlight has to be 'Electric Bitch', produced by Interpol's Sam Fogarino. A darkly atmospheric piece, hollow synths appear to circle the room, crying and scratching at the door, inducing a sense of creeping menace. Refreshingly, the track ends with a long instrumental outro, characterised by urgent scratching and low, pulsating tom beats drenched in delay.

At a mere 33 minutes long, End It All is dense yet succinct. Each track is lean and mean, and runs its course in expertly calculated fashion. Most tracks are in the one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minute range, but Beans' breathtakingly precise execution ensures he makes his point in just the right amount of time, no more, no less. Of particular note is the Four Tet-produced 'Anvil Falling', which races through its tragic narrative in under a minute; the anvil proving a suitable metaphor for the speedily-approaching calamity.

As a member of a group called the Anti-Pop Consortium, Beans was never going to be the kind of artist to gravitate towards the obvious hook to sell a song. Who needs three verses and an endlessly repeated chorus to make a point when one ceaseless rant will do? As such, End It All is an unsettling listen, and may have benefited from a few more touches of light to keep the darkness at bay. There's nothing wrong with being unsettled as a listener of course, but if Beans wants to find inspiration outside his window, perhaps he might first consider relocating to sunnier climes. Then again, his gain may be our loss.

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