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Audio Bullys, ‘Generation’ (Astralwerks)

There are worse crimes in music than mediocre lyrics. A decent melody or a catchy chorus or just one spot-on turn of phrase, and an entire Joshua Tree‘s worth of clichés can be readily overlooked. So that’s not what brings down the Audio Bullys’ sophomore effort.

There are also worse crimes in music than a lack of emotion. This is especially true of the various electronic genres, where frequency and speed and sonic collage and judicious sampling can make up for — and even overcome — the often-soulless nature of computers. So this also isn’t what makes Generation so underwhelming.

It’s possible, though, that there is nothing worse than simply being boring, appearing more like slate-gray aural primer than aural wallpaper. With Generation, Audio Bullys not only commit this sin, but compound it by calling attention to each track’s deficiencies: On first single “Shot You Down,” the gorgeous (and prominent) Nancy Sinatra sample serves only to point out how dull and unnecessary the rest of the track is.

What’s left? An album with no noticeable emotional core, no sense of humor, an overinflated sense of its own importance, and nothing that particularly redeems any of those flaws beyond the occasional guest appearance.