Groups that have put out excellent music in the past aren't only competing with other current discs when they unleash a new album. They're also going up against themselves — and by that measure, The Mix-Up falls way short.
Admittedly, the Beasties didn't set out to issue another Ill Communication. Their latest features twelve funky yet decidedly low-key instrumentals — and the likes of "Electric Worm" are generally pleasant. Still, Mix-Up isn't a casual goof the Boys put on their website as a freebie download or fan-club special. It's their first significant release since 2004's To the 5 Boroughs. And if all they could come up with in the three years since then is mildly enjoyable filler, these guys are either out of fresh ideas or overloaded with pre-owned ones.
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A generally positive review on AllMusic. com calls this CD "a good, rewarding path for the Beastie Boys as they approach middle age" — a double-edged compliment if ever there was one. Better that they grow old disgracefully than fight for the right to be innocuous.