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Example has been around for quite a while now and i think if you're the sort of person who would listen to his music you already know who he is so i wont delve too much into that. Example has been making #1 hits for a while now, he started off as quite a light dance music sort of artist back with songs such as "Watch the sun come up" however as of recent times we are starting to see more dark tunes coming from him.
Just from the album cover you can see that he's trying to implicate darkness with this new album and the title "Playing in the shadows to match" Having listened to this album over a few times now i can definitely sense that Example is changing his style. He has started to move into the "dub step" subsection of dance music. Dub step is essentially low frequency bass designed to be played on large speakers and most of his songs on this album have very deep bass for a backing track.
1. Skies Don't Lie
2. Stay Awake
3. Changed The Way You Kiss Me
4. The Way
5. Natural Disaster-Laidback Luke Vs Example [Extended Album Version]
6. Never Had A Day
8. Playing In The Shadows
9. Midnight Run
10. Under The Influence
11. Wrong In The Head
13. Lying To Yourself [Bonus Track]
As you can see here also from the song titles they are also quite a dark theme, all less upbeat than the tracks we remember him rising to fame with like "kickstarts" where he sings about love. I think if you're a lover of either dub step or dance music then this is still definitely worth a listen and he does still make great music however if you're adamant on the fact he should continue his original style then prepare to be dissapointed as i believe he has created a vast change on here from what he originally brought to music listeners across the globe.
"Gurning rave-hop, lowering the tone and turning the charts into a week-long episode of Skins" - NME
Hey - good morning. Hey - it's calling, I want to listen to another Example album with you. With so many stunning songs on his last album, 'Won't Go Quietly, including 'Watch the Sun Come Up' and 'Kickstarts', to name just two - there was going to be a lot for Example to live up to with third album.
Just as is with the case most British hip-hop artists, they have to fight their way into the mainstream. Example's first album is utterly unknown to most, 'What We Made' failed to chart anywhere back in 2007. Those who have followed him since the start will likely be aggravated by those who are 4-years behind his career.
'Won't Go Quietly' was one of the greatest albums of 2010 for me, and without a doubt the soundtrack to last summer. Example without a doubt specialises in summer party music, it's what he does best, that's why it is no surprise his return coincided with the beginning of summer.
Born as Elliot Gleave (his initials is where his stage name comes from) at 29 years of age he is very much at the peak of his career. Some may say he is even a little too old for the music he is releasing, but the highlight of his music for me has always been the infectious production rather than the lyrics. With his third album, 'Playing in the Shadows' has Example released a more grown up sound?
"Thinking about what I wanna say, thinking about how I wanna say it."
1, Skies Don't Lie (4.24) - Produced by Funkagenda
2, Stay Awake (3.24) - Produced by Nero
Almost every track on the album is produced by someone different, a testament to the UK music industry at current. It was just the other day that I was looking at the chart, stunned to see 9 out of the top 10 tracks were by British artists. I like when artists open an album with a track they haven't already released to radio, to me it shows they aren't trying to make sales from people picking up the album - seeing the tracks they recognise immediately - then filling the rest of the album with nothingness. 'Skies Don't Lie' serves as a good opener, and is unmistakably Example. From the very Britishness of his voice, to the production. There is also a reference in the track to his collaboration with Wretch 32, 'Unorthodox'.
Example has said himself that this album would see the beginning of his transition away from dance music, as he moves into a dubstep direction. It's very difficult to pigeonhole his music, from the electronic beats to the clear grime influences. Clearly dubstep has gone from something underground, to something a lot more commercially accessible - with even Leona Lewis saying she wants to push her music in this direction. 'Stay Awake' is the second single to be released from the project, and is along the same vein as most of his last album.
'Stay Awake' is produced by Nero, an electronic dance/dubstep act who themselves topped the UK chart with 'Promises' in August 2011. With Example's growing popularity, it was no wonder that this went on to top our chart also, although it is still not as good as anything he released on his last album in my opinion. In fact, lyrics such as, "Do we chase the rabbit into Wonderland?" seem pretty dire to me.
3, Changed The Way You Kissed Me (3.15) - Produced by Michael Woods
4, The Way (4.28) - Produced by Faithless
'Changed' was the first track to be released from the album, and upon first hearing it I have to admit I was disappointed. I could immediately see its commercial appeal, but it seemed a little.... Dare I say, safe and boring for Example. The opening is very much the build up for the all out craziness that commences around the 50-second mark, and it's no surprise that radio lapped this up. What I would say is about the question I posed in the introduction to this review, has Example's sound grown up? I don't know about maturing, but this is a progression in his music. Faithless will be the most noticeable production credit for most of those reading, as he is hugely well known for the track, 'Insomnia'. 'The Way' has some similarities for 'Insomnia', as Example asks for help to be shown the way home. It's got the raw Britishness about it that you expect from Mike Skinner and The Streets, more precisely 'Blinded by the Lights' - but not to that kind of extreme.
"Changed the Way You Kissed Me is quite possibly a You've Lost That Loving Feeling for this century." - BBC
5, Natural Disaster (5.05) - Produced by Laidback Luke
6, Never Had A Day (3.53) - Produced by Sheldrake & DC Breaks
7, Microphone (4.16) - Produced by Brookes Brothers
'Natural Disaster' serves as the third single to be lifted from the album. It shares a lot more similarities to 'Changed the Way You Kissed Me' than 'Stay Awake'. It feels a bit pityfilled for me, and the accompanying video is an example of this. 'Never Had A Day' is one of my favourite tracks on the album. All of Example's tracks seem to have long introductions, but the techno beats are undeniably him. Here he sings about never having a sober day and not being able to wake up the friend on the floor. The track is a lot slower than some of his previous songs, which may put some off, but there's something about it that feels very genuine and speaking from experience. From the sounds of it, he's had quite the life. 'Microphone' continues on the slowing pace of the album, this isn't one that's going to get played in Ibiza, but hopefully his fan base can appreciate the variety in his sound.
"Scheming. Dreaming. Wheeling. Dealing. Feeling strange."
8, Playing in the Shadows (4.39) - Produced by Chase & Status
9, Midnight Run (3.58) - Produced by Feed Me
10, Under the Influence (4.55) - Produced by Skream
Chase & Status have reached a new audience this year, becoming more popular than ever, and as such a production credit on Example's album doesn't come as a surprise. And it comes on the albums title track, 'Playing in the Shadows'. This sounds very different to the 'Won't Go Quietly' title track, and this is a prime example of his more mature sound. Even if the subject matter is still just as immature. I do find it very difficult to say anything positive about this track; there really isn't much to say. 'Midnight Run' continues on the more dark sound at this part of the album, but slowly picks up to be more disco friendly. If anyone knows the relatively unknown UK act, Frankmusik, this track would not have seemed out of place on his last album. Feed Me, the producers behind the track, have worked with a whole spectrum of artists as well; from KoRn, to Muse, to Nero. 'Under the Influence' leads perfectly on from the last track. Thankfully, Example has away of saying things that is different from a lot of other artists and can talk about love, without even having to use the word. This is a very grown up song, with so many of Example's songs being about partying and alcohol, its interesting to see when he writes a song about being under the influence, its actually about a woman.
"All the things you hate I find fun."
11, Wrong in the Head (3.11) - Produced by Tom Neville & Brookes Brothers
12, Anything (3.31) - Produced by Dirty South
BONUS, Lying to Yourself (3.34) - Produced by Wez Clarke & Eddie Jenkins
Brookes Brothers are the only producers to get more than one production credit on the album, I think this is just by chance as there's nothing overly special to say about them. Well, not in comparison to the faultless production throughout. 'Wrong in the Head' is the opposite of what we've just heard, as it's all about doing the wrong thing and going out getting absolutely plastered in the east end of London. 'Anything' is the end to the standard edition of the album, and if you've been partying to the rest of the album this is your cooling down period. It's a very appropriate ending still, as we see the more romantic side to Example.
If you've downloaded through iTunes you'll get the bonus tracks, 'Plastic Smile' and 'Shot Yourself in the Foot Again', and remix of 'Changed The Way You Kissed Me'. For me though it's just the eerily beautiful 'Lying to Yourself'. Gone are the layers of production and dupstep beats, it's just a simple piano playing. This is the other side of 'Anything', as its Example blaming the girl for the relationship breaking down. "Until you stop lying to yourself, I'll never stop lying to you. And until I stop crying to myself, I'll never cry in front of you." One of my favourite tracks on the album, shame it's only a bonus.
"I wanna stay for another day, if you want to save us give me a signal, anything will do."
From singing to rapping and back again. From happy to sad in less than 60 seconds. Example does a lot with this project, and brings a lot of friends along for the ride. Do I enjoy his music as much as I did last year? No. But I can appreciate what he is trying to do with his sound here. I'm not surprised he dominates the UK charts;
Having heard Example on Radio 1 for the last couple of years my opinion of his music had been gradually changing. I had enjoyed the singles I'd heard and in particular his new single Change The Way You Kiss Me kept getting stuck in my head. It was because of this I decided to make his third studio album, Playing In The Shadows, the first of his albums that I added to my cd collection. It's not exactly my usual type of music but having enjoyed quite a few of his songs I decided to ignore the slight change in genre to my usual taste and give it ago, after all variety is the spice of life apparently.
A Different Style
Now to say that Example was a big step away from my usual Indie and Rock tastes would be a fair comment. I've found that over the years my taste in music has diversified a bit and therefore I decided to buy an Example album. With his musical styling's described as a cross over between Rap, Grime, Hip Hop and Dubstep it wasn't going to be long before I got a taste of Examples real musical style, rather than the radio friendlier songs that are played on the likes of Radio 1. I don't think anything had really prepared me for the reality of a full blown rap, dance, grime and dub step fusion album such as this.
Who Is He
Perhaps one of the most important questions to be asked in this review and the answer is quite simple as clearly Example isn't his real name. in fact his real name is Elliot Gleave and he was born in London in 1982. He opted for the name Example as his stage name due to his initials being E.G., which in fairness is a much better way to name yourself than a number of artists seem to come up with.
Stalking In The Shadows
Had I known what I know now I probably wouldn't have bought this album. It's not that it's a bad album as it is a well-made collection of songs, it's just not really for me. That much is clear from the opening minute of the albums opening track. It has a decent opening but as soon as the rapping starts it's clear that this isn't for me. The lyrics are really well thought out and on the whole opening track "Skies Don't Lie" is a decent enough track but not really a song that appeals to me and has a real dance and grime mixture.
My enjoyment of the album enhances slightly due to "Stay Awake", which starts as a real dance track, but soon the lyrics take over and distract me from the dance vibe. Again the lyrics are really well written and Examples vocals work really well. It's a slower track than Skies Don't Lie and had me hoping on first listen that although I hadn't enjoyed the opening track things would improve. This was a feeling that was slightly more reinforced when the single I'd bought the album off the back off came on next.
Unfortunately it was to appear that "Change The Way You Kiss Me" would only be one of a few songs I truly like on the album. It has a hint of Dub step about it, but it also has a catchy chorus and a decent beat that detracts a little from its dub step roots, which works for me. Next up is a Faithless track with vocals by Example. It's actually quite good, however that is more to do with the musical element by Faithless. This is the first time on the album that I didn't really think that Example's vocals were strong enough and due to the unforgettable style of Faithless the vocals really get lost.
It's strange to say that "Natural Disaster", another of the singles, is perhaps my favourite track on the album. It starts strongly and whilst it descends into a real dance vibe I felt it really worked. Again the reason I liked Example in the first place, his vocals, really take over and make this a decent track to listen to. It's from here though that I decided that the album really wasn't for me. It's on tracks like "Never Had A Day" and the Chase and Status inspired title track "Playing In The Shadows" that made me realise that this wasn't really an album for me. I thought that Never Had A Day reminded me too much of The Streets, whilst Playing In The Shadows just never really seems to get going.
It's the kind of track that you expect to really kick off at any moment, but it just never reaches its moment. Then there are dance tracks such as "Midnight Run", that seem to fall in between out and out dance and a slower track, that perhaps might have worked better. The combination of his vocals and the synthesizers just doesn't work for me. The more grime influenced "Wrong In The Head" also misses the mark for me, however I can still see the talent on display here despite it not really being for me. The beat works well with the lyrics and Examples vocals sound decent enough for the style and also in comparison to other artists of similar styles I've heard on specialist music shows.
The much slower "Microphone is more my style of track and once again it is Examples vocals that really make it sound great. It has a good beat to the track but it is the delivery of the vocals and the quality of the lyrics that actually make this track. There are parts of "Under The Influence" that I really like. The track slows down and Examples vocals are quite calm and collected, however it then speeds up and I think loses the real appeal of the track. It is a mixture of a slower track and a dub step track that for me doesn't really work.
It is perhaps fitting that after such a mixed bag and having not enjoyed the albums opening track that I love the last track "Anything". It is a much slower paced track that shows off Examples singing ability. His vocals sound really strong whilst both singing and rapping, with strong lyrical content and an excellent backing track.
Not Really For Me
This album turned out to be a bit of a mixed back and from my point of view it was a little disappointing. I could however see the quality of Examples work and it is clear he is one of the more talented artists in his genre. Despite my dislike for the album, I do feel that it would be unfair to mark Example down for this alone. I really feel that fans of his work and fans of dub step, grime and dance music will really get something out of this album. There were a few highlights for me, but not enough for me not to pick and choose a couple of tracks for my Ipod, whilst the rest gather dust in my CD cabinet.
If you are interested in Examples new album it was released on the 5th September and can be purchased from any good record store, internet site or legal downloading service
I am a massive fan of Example and own every one of his albums. I first came across his songs around 3 years ago when my ex at the time was planning on doing a collaboration project with him (wishful thinking!), and despite thinking I would hate his songs, I actually really began to enjoy his whole 'sound' and distinct song style/voice, and I now recognise his voice/songs a mile off whenever I hear them on the radio. I do prefer his earlier work to be perfectly honest, however after hearing quite a few of the singles from this album on the radio, I decided to purchase the CD and see what the other songs were like. Example is pretty popular and well known (mainly amongst the younger generation), however for anyone who doesn't know who Example is, he is a singer and rapper from Fulham, London. His music consists of electro, rap, mc'ing, hip hop, grime and dubstep. Some of his albums, especially the earlier ones, also include tracks that are essentially cheesey over-the-top takes on pop songs which are very entertaining! I also enjoy the more meaningful, serious songs and he is a suprisingly good singer in my personal opinion. Example's real name is Elliott Gleave. Get it? His initials are EG! Clever nickname eh, lol.
Playing In The Shadows
Playing In The Shadows is Example's third studio album and was released very recently - 4th September 2011. Despite this album been classed by critics as more dance/dubstep orientated than his past work, I decided to purchase it on iTunes and give it a listen. I paid £8 for 12 track album which I think is a pretty decent price considering the run time of the album and the ammount of songs. Obviously because this album is very recent it is at its highest price so if you are unsure if you will like the music on this album I would reccomend waiting a few months until the price comes down. Aswell as iTunes, it is also available from most well known shops such as HMV, Play, etc and ofcourse Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda. The album art work is quite simple really and shows a portrait photo of Example. The picture has a black and white theme and half of Examples face is blacked out which reflects the album name (playing in the shadows) and I think has the underlying meaning that he has a dark side to him. The title of the album is shown beneath this picture and is written in small white font. Above the title album there is a rectangular yellow sign which has 'Example' written on it in black writing. The tracklist is on the back of the album in white writing on a black background and it is simple and clear enough to read, although I don't actually own the physical album myself and instead have the digital version which had the album covers included in JPEG format.
What Does It Sound Like?
This album is definetly much darker than his most popular album Won't Go Quietly, and is definetly more personal and less 'fun' which I was suprised by because most of the songs have quite an upbeat feel to them but if you actually listen to the lyrics they are pretty meaningful and at times relateable. The subject matter mainly focuses on Example's feelings and experiences and his struggle with coming to terms with fame, and resisting the temptations which come along with the fame and money such as drugs and girls, which he isn't very successful at resisting at all if he has gotten upto anything he describes in his album in real life! At first I felt quite.. well, underwhelmed, as I was expecting the songs to be the type you can dance around to like a nutter but there is more to this album than meets the eye. The album does have some heavy bass parts but it definetly is more 'clubland' like, lol which I am not too keen on and it could do with much more dubstep for me personally but i'm sure most people won't mind too much and despite the lack of Dubstep and heavier instrumentals it is still a great album and it definetly grew on me. I definetly think that Elliott/Example has grown up alot in this album since his last album, having shred his chavvy stoner type image and smartened up with a sleek hair do and designer sunnies. He seems much more mature and aware of himself although I am not keen on the whole dance route he seems so eager to go down as I much preferred his rapping and singing style, although luckily there is some of this present in the album.
Track 1 Skies Don't Lie
Skies don't lie is the album's opening track, and it definetly does the job well! It's a complete success in kicking the sound of the album off to a great start however I do feel like it's track one to draw people in as none of the other tracks are anywhere near as strong as this in my opinion - it's very upbeat with strong vocals and dupstep which gave me the impression that the album was going to be a very grimey kind of album which it isn't. The song reminds me alot of 'From Space' (a previous song by Example), and his rapping is really fast which leads to a real rush of a chorus which really gets me up and dancing. I am not too keen on the electro beat but luckily there is some bass and dubstep mixed in there. It's also got a very slight hint of pop rock mixed in there too which I like.
Track 2 Stay Awake
This is one that's been all over the radio's lately so i'm sure alot of people will recognise it if they hear it even if they don't realise it is a song by Example. The chorus is the best bit of the song and it has meaning to it. At around the 1 min mark it drops and then goes into a dance sort of track. The lyrics are quite repetitive so are easy to sing along to. It's not the best song on the album, nor is it my favourite but it's not a bad song.
Track 3 Changed the Way You Kiss Me
This is probably the most well known song on this album and featured as Zane Lowe's 'Hottest Record In The World' on Radio 1. It stayed at number 1 for 2 weeks and sold over 115,000 copies in its first week of been released. The song is very trance influenced and is quite repetitive - there's not a huge amount going on in the song apart from Example singing about breaking up with a girl. It reminds me alot of the song 'watch the sun come up' but isn't as grimey - it's more like techno. I really liked this song when it first came out but unfortunetly due to how much it has been overplayed on the radios and in clubs I have become slightly sick of it! It's still a nice song to dance to though but it's more disco-ey than nightclub-ey if that makes sense!! It is quite a good song when you actually listen to the lyrics. They're not hugely in depth but the basis of the song (breaking up, not feeling about the same about someone anymore) is quite relateable in my opinion and because the lyrics are quite repetitive the song is easy and fun to sing along to. I do like Examples singing in this however it does sound noticeabley auto tuned (without been too harsh).
Track 4 The Way
I love the intro to this song. It's got a nice soul sort of feel to it and Example's vocals are gentle and have a slight indie twang. The beat reminds me of a Faithless song and is slowly picks up speed and emotion and by the 1 minute and 18 second mark it gets more and more intense, with it exploding into a trance-like beat at around 1 minute and 50 seconds. The beat then switches again at around the 2 minute mark into a dubstep beat. Example both raps and sings in this song which shows off his ability of been both a good singer and rapper. I really love the chorus, it's very nicely tuned and the vocals are gentle enough to be relateable. The lyrics are about him wanting guideance in his life.
Track 5 Natural Disaster
Well I really didn't like this at first, it was like something you'd hear playing at an underground chavvy rave - very techno, but then bizzarely enough a piano starts playing and Example starts singing about him wanting to change his ways, and wanting to be with someone he likes but feeling she is too good for him. At around a minute and half the speed picks up and by 2 minutes it explodes into a bit of a mess of an ibiza style mash up of instrumentals with a weird foreign voice talking over it briefly, but I do like the song purely for the lyrics and the piano is a nice little touch to the song and it makes it stand out from the rest. At the 3 minute and 20 second mark, Example bursts into rapping about his feelings and although the lyrics are good I am not keen on this part of the song, it just seems too 'manufactured' - not real, or meaningful or gritty like his earlier work. It's almost like he is reading a script.
Track 6 Never Had A Day
The techno intro is actually okay on this song as it merges in to the song well. It is quite an upbeat beat but then when Example starts rapping it gets quite depressing as it is yet another song about breaking up with someone he loves. The chorus is my favourite part of this particular song as it picks up a bit but then reverts back to his rapping about loving the girl who doesn't love him back. Some of the lyrics are really sweet, and I do feel like you can hear the emotion in his voice. As it gets towards the end the lyrics become clearer, with it been actually about a homeless alchoholic couple who live on the streets in the cold.
Track 7 Microphone
The intro of this is a piano which in my opinion is quite out of tune lol. Then Example starts singing about his life and the girl he likes, he's singing to her about his feelings. It's a very sort of 'nod-a-long' song if that makes sense - it's not quite a song to dance about to until it reaches the chorus and even then it is more of a song you would play in your front room or bedroom then dance around to at a club.
Track 8 Playing In The Shadows
This song really shows off the extent of Example's singing abilities. The beat is mixed by the legendary Change and Status. It's a very gentle, slow song but the instrumentals have a kind of spooky, haunting feel to them if that makes sense. The intro is great and explodes into a mix of dubstep and techno. The intro definetly reminds me of a Rolling Stones song for some reason, it's very nicely paced and developes nicely into bassline. I don't particulary think that the lyrics match this song well but that's my opinion, it sounds a bit 'try hard'. I think it's about trying to stay out of trouble/resist temptation while his girlfriend waits for him at home.
Track 9 Midnight Run
The intro of this is euphoric. I love it! I also love the dubstep drop in this at around 3 minutes into the song but I hate when Example is repeating the lyrics and it's all sped up and autotuned sounding.
Track 10 Under The Influence
This song is probably my favourite. Example's rapping in this is absolutely amazing and so fast and accurate with each line meaning something, rather than it just been a meaningless rambling kind of rap. Skream produced this song and this in my opinion is one of the best Skream beats to date which is definetly saying something! It reminds me a bit of the 'Heroes' theme song for some bizzare reason lol. The song itself is a kind of love song and it is obviously aimed towards that special person (and I love being under the influence, under the influence of you). It's a really good song to slow dance to and then once it gets going and the bass drops you can break into a little manic dance, lol.
Track 11 Wrong In The Head
This song is about staying out too late after promising to be home on time to his girlfriend and feeling guilty for going off with a random girl. He is then stranded in the east end of london down a dark alley with no credit and he's scared, lol. The chorus is repetitive but not annoying. Example both sings and raps in this song and it's one that's ideal for dancing about to at a party.
Track 12 Anything
What a cute song! Such a gentle one which is dedicated to his ex girlfriend. He discusses his regrets and how he can't believe they "both let it fade away."
This album is good, but it doesn't compare to Example's earlier work in my opinion. It is a shame that he released the album in early september rather than earlier in the year as it's definetly a very 'summery' kind of album - the type that sounds great blasting out of the beach or in the garden whilst enjoying a barbeque. I have a feeling that the songs on this album will be very popular in clubs though and will probably be overplayed up until christmas which is a bit of a downer as I have a feeling i'll get sick of the songs quite easily because as you can see a few of them are quite repetitive and despite there been 12 tracks, there is very little variety. This album will not appeal to anyone who isn't a dance music fan, nor will it appeal to hardcore rap or grime fans as although there is some good verses in there, the music does sort of dim it down a bit - a few of the verses could be really grimey and in Eminem's league, but unfortunetly the music doesn't do the lyrics justice on a number of the songs.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Skies Don't Lie
2 Stay Awake
3 Changed The Way You Kiss Me
4 The Way
5 Natural Disaster (Extended Album Version) - Laidback Luke VS Example
6 Never Had A Day
8 Playing In The Shadows
9 Midnight Run
10 Under The Influence
11 Wrong In The Head
13 Lying To Yourself - exclusive CD bonus track