In an age when you wonder what the fuss was about "essential" and "brilliant" new albums a few months after they came out, Josh Davis aka DJ Shadow's 1996 debut 'Entroducing' towers as one of the great achievements in modern music.

It's the type of record that many artists would develop a psychosis trying to better but DJ Shadow has always set himself up as someone who never intends to be manacled to his audience's expectations. After 'Entroducing' he could've gone the celebrity remix route, disappeared in a flurry of cash-in follow-ups or just retired to his headphones at home because he wasn't going to better it.

Instead he's shown a fearlessness when following his gut instinct, taking six years to release the slow-burning follow-up, 'The Private Press', and now indulging his love of hip-hop with 'The Outsider', an album whose title captures the essence of Davis but is overlong.

If you're a fan of 'Entroducing' but not too taken with rap, 'The Outsider' won't be the album to make your year - there are plenty of MCs, lots of lyrics and loads of grit. Away from the hip-hop, the latter stages recall some of the sounds of 'Entroducing', but nothing here packs the impact of that album. What does. 

For 'The Outsider' to work as well as it could have, Davis should've shortened it to 45 minutes, weeded out the weaker tracks and split it into an album of two very different sides. Instead, you might lose interest before the 71 minutes are up and if you're looking for an album that covers many bases at once The Roots' latest, 'Game Theory', is something to behold.

All that said, it's largely pointless to suggest where Davis should go next because, unlike countless others, the one person's standards he's trying to meet are his own.

With that in mind, we look forward to the next adventure.

Harry Guerin