In the summer of 2009, two-thirds of the notoriously goofy Beastie Boys posted a video announcement to their website. "I have some pretty heavy news," said Adam "MCA" Yauch, sitting in a recording studio with a stone-faced Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz beside him. "I actually have a form of cancer in the gland that's over here," he continued, his hand tapping at the left side of his throat. He explained that upcoming shows would be cancelled and the release of the Beasties' eighth album pushed back. His tone was sober and apologetic.
Twenty-two months, one surgery and a clean bill of health for Yauch later, that delayed album is here. Sort of. While Hot Sauce Committee Part One has been indefinitely postponed, the Beastie Boys Yauch, Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond have instead released Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, which includes some tracks originally intended for Part One (still with me?).
It's been seven years since their last full-lyric album (2007's The Mix-Up was an underwhelming instrumental departure) and patient fans are in luck: Part Two is classic Beastie. On the organ-driven "Make Some Noise", the album's feistiest track and current single, the group riffs with the swelling bravado they're known for while wisecracking about the march of time: "My rhymes age like wine as I get older/I'm getting bolder, competition is waning."
But their sound is young. Many of Part Two's tracks are reminiscent of early Beastie Boys, from the punk-rockish guitars on "Lee Majors Come Again" to the bouncing bluster of "Here's A Little Something For Ya." There are surprises, too: A reggae-laced collaboration with electro-pop singer/songwriter Santigold, "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win," is a danceable, irresistibly summery highlight. And with its heavy synths and static-infused vocals, "Tadlock's Glasses" shows off the Boys' taste for experimentation the song sounds almost as if it's being played underwater while being simultaneously sped up and slowed down. The result isn't entirely satisfying, but it's definitely the work of a band that's never stopped evolving.
Just as Yauch reprises and modernizes the group's most iconic lyric ("We're gonna party for our motherf____ right to fight") Hot Sauce Committee Part Two itself reprises and modernizes the Beastie Boys. The album is a return to form that still manages to be innovative and ridiculously fun health scares and album delays be damned.