There’s a feverish energy on Minotaurs’ sophomore release, their first album since 2010’s The Thing. Yet despite a lavish horn section and a sense of urgency in frontman Nathan Lawr’s messages of dissent (“We can only wake the giant if we make some noise”), New Believers’ Afrobeat-tinged protest music manages to take a lively, joyful genre and suck most of the fun out of it. A funky bass line kicks off the album’s first single, “Open the Doors,” a duet with Sarah Harmer, and Lawr recruits Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija for another duet, but the guest appearances don’t make up for the album’s lack of variety. The Thing let listeners sink back into a mellow groove, but New Believers insists on pushing you upright with a persistent, frantic drum beat that’s initially interesting, but grows exhausting after four or five songs that have similar tempos. The strongest track is the album’s last one, “Windchimes in the Evening,” which, at over seven minutes long, abandons the frenzy of the previous tunes, building steadily before spilling over into a delicious jam session. Still, compared to more traditional Afrobeat groups like Montreal’s Afrodizz, Minotaurs’ sound is less invigorating than tiring.
Playlist pick: “Windchimes in the Evening”
Minotaurs play the Tranzac (292 Brunswick Ave.) on Jan. 26.