Tyler the Creator
Wolf


4.5
superb

Review

by Seth Barry-Hinton USER (18 Reviews)
March 30th, 2013 | 36 replies | 4,857 views


Release Date: 04/02/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Sam, the music sounds good, man. You've been practicing."

14 of 15 thought this review was well written

Tyler, The Creator's junior album is a bit eclectic in terms of concept, but here's what I took away from it: It is not his third therapy session - instead, it's a stand-alone story that can be interpreted both literally, as actually happening, or figuratively, inside Tyler's fractured psyche. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The premise: likeable troublemaker Wolf Haley arrives at "Camp Flog Gnaw" and encounters the extremely anti-social jazz player/crack dealer (?) Samuel. Wolf starts to make friends with Samuel's girlfriend Salem, much to the chagrin of Sam, who starts a riot in which Earl Sweatshirt is killed. The album closes as Wolf contemplates the death of his (Tyler's) grandmother and threatens violence against Samuel. It's abundantly clear that Wolf and Samuel are two halves of Tyler, the former being a more self-aware individual and the latter trapped by emotional immaturity, and that the former is becoming more prominent as Samuel burns out. If Bastard was the story of a kid dealing with growing up without a father, and Goblin was the story of that same kid dealing with the launch into stardom, then Wolf is that kid dealing with the realizations brought on by the previous two stories.

But regardless of the interesting (if rather muddled) concept, none of that means a damn thing if the music itself can't stand up. Fortunately, Tyler has pulled through on that front. His production has continued to evolve, pulling from a variety of influences: Neptunes-style funk on "Jamba", "48" and "IFHY", neo-soul on "Treehome95", arpeggiated guitar chords on "Answer", and straight jazz on closer "Lone" - the same brand of sonic eclecticism and experimentation that Gorillaz employ on their albums. Yet he retains connection to the sound he developed on his last two albums, melding the darkness of Goblin and Bastard with the happier sounds that he's professed to loving - just another example of his beloved contradictions, like when he tears into his father directly, rather than through one-liners or retrospect, on "Answer" over charming guitars and pleasant synths reminiscent of ringing phones. The problematically long hooks of past Odd Future releases has mostly been skirted here as well, only becoming an issue on "Trashwang" Unfortunately, though, some sacrifices have been made despite the progression. The unique if strange percussion on the last album has been replaced with conventional hip-hop drumkits that stand out jarringly from the rest of the production in a bad case of imbalanced mixing - a problem that the album as a whole experiences. But the music outside of the drums sounds stellar, embracing different instrumentation and moods to create a musical work that is, surprisingly, very consistent.

Tyler's lyrics have always been provocative in the vein of classic punk rock artists, and when several songs have a four-beat count-off, it's hard (at least for me) not to think of Dee Dee Ramone shouting "1-2-3-4!" before launching into a show. Wolf balances introspection and storytelling well, explaining on "Cowboy" and "Lone" that although newfound financial stability has brought improvements, happiness hasn't necessarily come along as a result. He's still forced to deal with the death of his grandmother, who is now "just nostalgia", and contemplate how his friends are all going through their own issues ("Frank is out the closet, Hodgy's an alcoholic/Syd might be bipolar, but *** it, I couldn't call it"), and work through the intricacies of relationships on "IFHY" and "Awkward". He does come close to rehashing points he's already made, like those about critics or his father, but he tries to only touch on these subjects with one-liners to avoid repeating himself too much ("Tyler talkin' father problems" and "fuck critics/(How's your dick?)/Shit, how's your knees?" from "Slater").

Tyler understands the niche that he's found himself in, mostly beloved by white teenagers with either inflated egos or severe issues. This is called to attention on "Colossus", which essentially makes the same characterization as Eminem's "Stan" in a less subtle fashion - a fan who adores Tyler to the extent of obsession and homosexual feelings over rumbling bass and jazz chords. It's an exaggeration, to be sure, and one could say he's putting words into the mouths of his fans, but it demonstrates his perspective on the matter of being mobbed and complimented by fans. And in spite of the success that he touts on lead single "Domo23" and "Slater", Tyler is well aware that said success has stemmed from being relatable - Goblin could certainly be accused of having its head far up its own ass, but it still managed to connect with his audience in their anger and worries over the future, themes that he expands upon on Wolf. On "Rusty", with Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt, he covers how he has become an important figure to many teenagers, staving them off from depression or lashing out and encouraging individuality, and with "Awkward" and "IFHY" discusses the paradoxes and pains of love and lust. Also notable is "Pigs", which tells the story of how Samuel arrives at Camp Flog Gnaw atop menacing organs and police sirens, but also functions as A: a general story of how young people can be pushed to violence by the cruelties of their peers, and B: the story of Tyler's rise to prominence, bullied and mocked into lashing out before recoiling at the backlash of the "pigs".

Though Wolf is well-produced and lyrically compelling, it has an issue with tracklisting and filler. First single "Domo23" is astonishingly out of place between "Awkward" and "Answer", two of the calmer songs of the album, because it's entirely built around hype - it's also one of the weaker songs, designed to pander, with the obligatory celebrity name-dropping that is kept to a surprising minimum through the rest of the album. And production-wise, it's mostly made up of the same synthesizers that were used to great effect on Goblin, but don't mesh with Wolf at all - the horns that bookend the song deserved more usage. "Treehome95" quite honestly doesn't fit on the album itself - according to the skit, it's a song by Samuel's jazz/soul band "The Dead Sams", but it still doesn't make sense positioned where it is between the riotous hype songs "Trashwang" and "Tamale". Neither of those songs are particularly bad, however - just out of place. "PartyIsntOver" and "Campfire" are both abysmal songs, repetitive and annoying and crammed into one track with the actually interesting and fun song, "Bimmer".

But although one can nit-pick as though they were a chimpanzee with a refined ear, Wolf is definitely a development and not a regression or stagnation. Tyler has become more self-aware with his lyrics, but not so much that he has become purely laughable, and his production improves the more he incorporates the music he loves. It's not the conclusion to the trilogy of therapy sessions that were promised, but it's very satisfying.



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user ratings (590)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • apokolypz (4)
    White guys rejoice! Everyone's favorite cat loving awkward doughnut eating strange experim...

    kvltwalter (4)
    The wolf is prowling for your ears on Tyler's latest. Just let him take 'em...

    Aziz STAFF (2.8)
    Wolf offers some great flashes into the maturing mind of Tyler the Creator, but if he's no...

    Iain Galbraith (3)
    Tyler matures... Well a little...

  • Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS (2.8)
    Wolf certainly leaves fans wanting and wondering why an entire record of "Yonkers" or "Dom...

    William Lim (3.5)
    There's never been a more inappropriate time to be shouting “Golf Wang”....

    Joe Denby (4)
    Maturing....

    knottsknocks (3.5)
    WOLF is an original release with classic Odd Future-esque lyrics, but with terrible produc...


Comments:Add a Comment 
knottsknocks
March 30th 2013



21 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Your review is better than mine. Pos'd.

oltnabrick
March 30th 2013



30138 Comments


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2nRE8C8GBA


posd

Digging: Wretched Excess - Away From This World

Hep Kat
March 30th 2013



15000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this isnt even close to 4.5 quality

Digging: Merchandise - After The End

JazzHands333
March 30th 2013



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

18 songs I enjoyed / 20 total songs = .9
.9 x 5 = 4.5
4.5 - .25 (for tracklist ordering) - .1 (for two weaker songs) - .1 (for nitpicking individual songs and the relatively minor percussion issues) = 4.0
4.0 + .25 (for working really well when taken as a whole despite tracklist ordering) + .25 (for improving overall in comparison to the previous album) = 4.5

Hep Kat
March 30th 2013



15000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

also:

Tyler's lyrics have always been provocative in the vein of classic punk rock artists


lol

Chortles
March 30th 2013



17908 Comments


18 songs I enjoyed / 20 total songs = .9
.9 x 5 = 4.5
4.5 - .25 (for tracklist ordering) - .1 (for two weaker songs) - .1 (for nitpicking individual songs and the relatively minor percussion issues) = 4.0
4.0 + .25 (for working really well when taken as a whole despite tracklist ordering) + .25 (for improving overall in comparison to the previous album) = 4.5


lol

Digging: Yo La Tengo - Electr-O-Pura

Tyrael
March 30th 2013



20738 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Damn Hep you dropped your rating :[

Hep Kat
March 30th 2013



15000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah i listened to this again today and eh didnt sound as good

JazzHands333
March 30th 2013



312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

(Not the actual system I used for rating this or anything else, just for the record.)

oltnabrick
March 30th 2013



30138 Comments


(ok)


ViralOblivion
March 30th 2013



7679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What's happening....

oltnabrick
March 30th 2013



30138 Comments


What's happening....


FUK TH?T G°LF W?NG, FUK TH?T G°LF W?NG, FUK TH?T G°LF W?NG, FUK TH?T G°LF W?NG

Hammrhead
March 30th 2013



8 Comments


this review reminds me of my bimmer

Gyromania
March 31st 2013



15199 Comments


idk, should i listen to this if i thought goblin was abysmal?

dimsim3478
March 31st 2013



4735 Comments


Lol yes

Digging: My Psychoanalyst - Choreomania

oltnabrick
March 31st 2013



30138 Comments


its not very good

Gyromania
March 31st 2013



15199 Comments


the album cover makes me want to stay as far away from this as possible. hmmmmm, who to believe

MalleusMaleficarum
March 31st 2013



13795 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

how can you honestly think that goblin is better than this brick whats ur problem bro

oltnabrick
March 31st 2013



30138 Comments


i dont like either lol


idk what i have goblin rated

oltnabrick
March 31st 2013



30138 Comments


o its a 3 dam



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