Trip - River Phoenix
Helen Newbery 18/05/2009
Having previously worked with the likes of Grooverider and Shy FX, 'River Phoenix' is the debut single by MC and DJ Alex Child. Clearly believing he's a chronicler of modern urban life, his songs are populated by the kinds of losers you'd normally cross the street to avoid. Structurally, the rapped-verse-sung-chorus blueprint owes a substantial debt to The Streets' Mike Skinner. However, whereas Skinner is an astute chronicler of modern mores, by comparison, Trip is a bottom-feeder who has taken the genre and sucked the life from it. The lyrics are several rungs below Skinner: “turns out he didn't get a kiss goodnight as River Phoenix died”. All this is overlaid onto a plodding bassline and the kind of arrangements which would really grate if they weren't so insipid. The most irritating aspect, however, is the banality of the lyrics: “Nightmare Frank got to kiss her. Thanks a lot Mr River!”, which makes the whole enterprise feel distinctly juvenile. And whereas lyricists such as Alex Turner have shown that being barely out of your teens is no barrier to perceptive observation, this single is a soul-crushing example of banality and a depressing exercise in derivative mediocrity.