Review Summary: A familiar sound under a new name.
Atmospheric sounds decorated in psychedelia, and a voice confessing the very thoughts and actions most people choose to repress in the background of their mind; this is was the typical archetype found in the music of Kid Cudi. It's a pleasant experience when we discover an artist whose music attracts our attention, whose sounds keep us intrigued to the very end. But it's even more rewarding when the lyrics that we hear, are something that we can relate to ourselves. As if the artist was peeking through a window into our lives and writing lyrics about whatever they saw. I suppose what made Kid Cudi such an interesting artist were the flaws in himself that he projected out for display for the entire world to see. Whether it was social alienation, personal insecurities, or his dependence on Marijuana to deal with these personal defects, we got a sense that Kid Cudi wasn't like the other celebrities, he was one of us. A regular guy.
But within, WZRD, we perceive a different Kid Cudi, though this of course was to be expected as "WZRD" isn't just Kid Cudi, but a collaboration with music producer Dot Da Genius. There was certainly a great deal of attention that was being paid to this particular project of Kid Cudi. And naturally so, he has become one of Hip-Hop's most respected acts and when he revealed the existence of this new project, one could only assume the best from Scott Mescudi. Some of the first songs that the band revealed were; "Perfect Is The World"
and "No One Believes Me"
, both tracks sharing a similar aesthetic of gloomy Psychedelic Rock. Though far from immaculate, these first singles did show potential. But this was a band that was still trying to define themselves, and the sound of their music. WZRD released their first two singles from the album; "Brake"
and "Teleport 2 Me, Jamie"
, to a relatively positive response.
And so, was WZRD worth all the hype and anticipation? Well, it's tough to say. Though it's music does display a much more Rock-oriented sound, WZRD doesn't reveal any new realms within the music of Kid Cudi that we haven't already heard before. The album begins with "The Arrival"
, an instrumental opener consisting of an ominous barrage of psychedelic sounds. Immediately we get the sense that the music of the album will be an expansion of the dark mood of band's first two songs, but that isn't the case. WZRD actually displays an optimistic attitude within it's music, an observation that is most evident within the second track of the album, "High Off Life"
. This track is the first introduction of the album's Rock sound, and it's a disappointing one. Despite it's elevated mood, the music feels lackadaisical in nature. Most of the music is orchestrated in a "Hip-Hop fashion", and what I mean by that is that in Hip-Hop, the instruments are secondary because the music is used to decorate the lyrics since the vocals are the center of attention. But in Rock music, it's the exact opposite. Though the vocals are obviously important in typical Rock music, the instrumentation is given more emphasis. Incorporating different time signatures, guitar solos, etc. But "High Off Life"
, contains a repetitive guitar arrangement and drum beat that just comes out as insipid. And this is a typical arrangement that can be heard in most of the guitar-driven tracks in the album. I understand that this is to be expected as Kid Cudi is still rather new to the guitar, and is still developing his dexterity for the instrument. But there are moments in this album, where his guitar playing are down right abhorrent. For example, "Efflictim"
, a supposed acoustic ballad. The lyrics reflect a darker mood, and it's suppose to reflect a more calming sound, but he is strumming the guitar too fast and in a repetitive motion that doesn't synch in with his vocal deliveries.
The album does contain it's moments of accomplishment though, in particular with it's more Psychedelic compositions. "The Dream Time Machine"
displays an ethereal atmosphere of psychedelia. It's delicate sounds are hypnotic, and is perhaps WZRD's most confident composition. "Brake"
, is another paradigm of the more atmospheric orchestrations, projecting a blissful ambience of Psychedelic Rock. WZRD is arguably most persuasive when it's musicians return to more familiar instruments, for example, the synthesizer. "Teleport 2 Me, Jamie"
, an ode by a passionate narrator who yearns for his lover who while separated by a great distance. It's ambient synth-driven sound is a typical arrangement that can be found in every section of Kid Cudi's discography, but it's a familiar territory that both he and Dot Da Genius are comfortable with so the music feels much more dextrous.
Earlier within this interview I discussed the attractions within the music of Kid Cudi, and the qualities that made him standout from typical Hip-Hop artists. I spoke particularly about his lyrics and how there is often an emotional depth within them, but that isn't found here and it will be sure to disappoint some fans. The lyrics of WZRD often come out as enervated and uninspired. The instrumental elements of the songs reflect Kid Cudi's past ventures and it's experimental nature can be seen, paradoxically, as both a positive and a negative. And by experimental nature, I mean that the band actually composed the instrumental elements of the music and the limitations of their musicianship within the Rock-oriented songs are more than evident. It's tough to predict if Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius will continue to release music under this moniker but behind all of the flaws of this debut, there is potential here. There is plenty of room to grow. But as of now, WZRD feels more like a stepping stone than an album that is confident of itself. This is an interesting album, to say the least, and I encourage Kid Cudi fans to listen to it and garner their own opinions on this particular project.