Hadouken!(don't you DARE forget that exclamation point, dammit) was a prominent part of the so-called New Rave movement, an absolute delight of a name for which we have ever insightful NME to thank. Their 2008 debut, Music for an Accelerated Culture, propelled by the unabashedly energetic single That Boy That Girl, was a frenetic, absurd amalgum of dance-punk, trance, house, and I'm sure a number of others I'm forgetting; it was a loud, in your face, and ultimately fun listen, much like Mindless Self Indulgence's earlier releases. Also like MSI, however, Hadouken! seems to receive critiques for what are essentially the wrong things. Surely, these critics don't think that Hadouken!'s fans are swooning at the philosophical musings behind vocalist James Smith's lines, like "How he dresses I care zero, as long as he don't spill my drink," or "I should have put this flame out years ago, but you burnt my house down." There's nothing groundbreaking or poignant here, and there was never meant to be; it's little more than mindless fun, and to judge it on any grounds other than that seems to miss the point. Where Mindless is clearly more tongue-in-cheek than Hadouken!, the latter has a bit more variety to offer musically.
Having said that, For the Masses is a loud, bouncy good time. Hadouken! has traded in a bit of the boisterous energy from their debut for more groove, but the aggression still comes across loud and clear. Though none of the ten in this set are particularly short, the added melody helps the songs breeze by much more quickly than they feel they should. First track Rebirth shows right away that synth player Alice Spooner has gotten somewhat sharper with her lines and layering, and her chemistry with guitarist Daniel "Pilau" Rice has grown noticeably as well.
There's also a stark difference between their previous singles (That Boy That Girl, Liquid Lives) and those on For the Masses, Turn the Lights out and M.A.D., which was released on an EP back in September. The newer ones are a lot less reliant on aggression, and feel more confident in their melodies, but are still as fun as the older ones. The house sound that dominates a lot of the tracks, most prominently Evil and Mic Check, is well conceived in that despite the obviously heavy electronic presence, the bass, guitar, and drums still give it a genuinely organic feel. Hadouken! also hits a similarly industrial sound on Play the Night, a bruising number with a great KMFDM-esque riff.
For the Masses is clearly cut from the same cloth as Accelerated, but there's a more eclectic feel here. House Is Falling exhibits more facets than the entirety of their last album (which true, doesn't exactly make it a prism of a song), and for all of Ugly's ridiculous sentiments of "fucking your face up", it plays with its groove very well. Yes, James Smith yells "FUCK YOUR FACE UP," and somehow, the threat in his English accent fails to intimidate.
There's a bit more on For the Masses than the typical "more of the same" syndrome; the synths and guitars go better together, there's a bit more restraint to their attack, and James Smith is still armed with some poetry that will make you WEEP. Hadouken! is admittedly polarized however, and if a manic and fast paced blend of aggressive electronic dance styles sounds good to you, you will probably love this. If you were a fan of the band before, you'll probably love this. Anything else, however, and chances are it will irritate you; though I imagine that is the whole point.