Thundercat’s Third Studio Album “Drunk” Explores New Sound
Issue   |   Wed, 03/22/2017 - 01:38
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Thundercat experiments with rap and R&B vibes in this new album, which features artists like Kenny Logins, Michael McDonald, Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa.

On February 24, celebrated bassist Thundercat released his third studio album, “Drunk.” Thundercat is renowned for not only his solo works but also his collaborations with producer Flying Lotus and rapper Kendrick Lamar. “Drunk” continues Thundercat’s record of success, although it departs slightly from some of his more intense work in the past. In “Drunk,” Thundercat prefers a laidback funky vibe, which he infuses with R&B and rap. What really makes the album unique and interesting, however, is Thundercat’s sense of humor.

The album opens with a moody and melodic intro, but then immediately transitions into the hilarious song “Captain Stupido,” an upbeat track about feeling weird that, unsurprisingly, turns out pretty weird itself. The fifth track on “Drunk,” “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song II),” is another humorous track about how cool it would be to be a cat. The track grooves nicely and includes Thundercat mimicking a cat meowing. “Tokyo,” possibly the best track on the album, is a song about visiting Japan, filled with a bunch of hilarious pop culture and anime references. “Jameel’s Space Ride,” the next song, is a perfect follow up to “Tokyo,” complete with a cartoony sound.

Besides being humorous, the album features some amazing production from Flying Lotus and sometimes Thundercat himself. Thundercat puts his bass skills on display in “Uh Uh,” a mostly instrumental track padded with soft background vocals. He continues this light mood on “Bus in These Streets.” Flying Lotus incorporates some electronic sounds into the album on the “Day & Night” interlude, but unfortunately, this theme is not explored much elsewhere on the album. One exception, however, is the 14th track “Friend Zone,” which is backed by a great drum track and electronic sounding scales. With “Inferno,” an enthralling track juxtaposing creepy and soft vocals, “Drunk” continues its excellent production. The album concludes with “DUI,” which picks up the same beat as the intro track, giving a sense of closure to the album.
The features on the album range from very good to completely forgettable.

“Show Me the Way” and the following track “Walk On By” form one of the best moments on the album. Both songs feature great guest verses from Kenny Logins, Michael McDonald and Kendrick Lamar. “Dat Drink” is a would-be good song, with an eerie atmosphere, but Wiz Khalifa’s verse doesn’t fit the mood. The penultimate song of the album, “The Turn Down,” features Pharrell, but his feature is pretty much lost due to how similar his and Thundercat’s vocals are.

The one complaint I have with the album is that there are a few indistinctive tracks on the second half of the album. “Them Changes” is not a bad song in and of itself. However, it was already used on his 2015 EP, “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam,” and not really necessary on a 23-track album. “Where I’m Going” is also a pretty uneventful song. The three tracks “I Am Crazy,” “3AM” and the title track “Drunk” are all decent but not long enough to be memorable.

Overall, I really enjoyed “Drunk.” The album keeps a funky, mellow mood throughout, while changing up enough to keep it interesting. In the latter half of the album, “Drunk” falls off a bit. Some of those tracks could certainly be cut from the 23-song track list. Nevertheless, “Drunk,” along with other major releases like Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” might bring some funk sounds back into popular music. It would be great to hear more of it.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

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