It'd be impossible to get through this review without making about 10 comparisons between Northern State and the Beastie Boys. Might as well get 'em all over with now by pointing out that they're a trio (1) of witty (2), political (3), white (4), Jewish kids from NYC (5), with ironic (6) old-school flows (7), who like pop culture (8), have a liberal bent (9) and explore other genres (10).
Despite calling Adrock in to handle some of their second album's production, the band attempts to shake that Beastie flava in a few ill-fitting tracks in the middle that sound informed by Luscious Jackson-style 90s electro-pop.
A handful of songs, like Things I'll Do, find Northern State at their zenith, perfect storms of concept, beat and lyrical cleverness. Others are catchy but inane. Enough are just insipid.
Northern State's heart is in the right place - they just seem to have no concept of their strengths and weaknesses.