From his 2000 debut forward, Sole has made a name by launching devastating critiques of the U.S. government as relentlessly as news tickers churn out headlines. And in 2007, he and the Skyrider Band added a dozen or so instruments to the cacophony — a live energy that could have soundtrack a riot, but mainly just drowned out the lyrics to Sole’s protest songs.
That is, until Hello Cruel World, the ensemble’s dark, twisted take on the Atlanta mixtape circuit. Influenced by the same Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa and Katy Perry samples featured on Sole’s Nuclear Winter mixtapes, he and the Skyrider Band have replaced their usual battery of glockenspiels, prog rock pacing and ominous, anonymous drones with artillery beats, sparse strings and vocal contributions from, among others, Xiu Xiu’s weary Jamie Stewart and the ever-reliable Sage Francis.
And after nearly a decade of yelling, of demanding to be heard, Sole is no longer spitting all he has to say in one hasty breath. (“A self-made man, nobody gave me shit too/ ‘cept my addict father, thanks for the anger issues,” he says calmly in opener “Napoleon.”) Every syllable is deliberate and every word can be understood. Sole’s no longer mad at the world — he’s disappointed.