Autobiography aside (the Lil Wayne-sampling "Out of Category"), P.O.S.'s wall of lyrics is best taken in from afar, where you can see, amid densely woven metaphors and hilariously stretched pop references, the outlines of a long love letter to his community—not just hip hop or punk, but whatever left wing still summons itself off the couch. Where Cage's punk rap has the shelf-life of a novelty, P.O.S.'s challenging third album, Never Better, endures because it starts with love, and seems to imagine actual people singing or screaming along—dancing, too, before the music goes hardcore-sideways. Production-wise, his Minneapolis crew, Doomtree, has outdone itself, mixing the full spectrum of breakbeat-based pop to create at least eight compulsive playables, with Lazerbeak's "Goodbye" the soulful centerpiece. Yet the best song might be "The Basics (Alright)," which P.O.S. produced himself, pushing apart several clattering stop-start elements—an ancient blues moan, an African-sounding percussion break, a gothic boom-bap beat—before slamming them together again in his warm singing voice. The album title is truth in advertising, and that's saying something. With Plain Ole Bill, Slapping Purses, Prof & St. Paul Slim, and Moonstone. All ages. (Photo by threephin)
Sat., Oct. 24, 6 p.m., 2009

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