Michael Jackson
Xscape


3.5
great

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (181 Reviews)
May 14th, 2014 | 60 replies


Release Date: 05/13/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An interesting old-meets-new compilation that happens to be much better than the singer's first posthumous album Michael. Just make sure not to grab the deluxe edition.

After a mere five years since Michael Jackson's death, we're already looking at the second posthumous compilation of songs featuring the legendary singer. Now, I'm not against hearing unreleased material by the man himself, but doesn't it seem like such an obvious cash grab? Hell, in a way, I'm actually surprised that there haven't been more albums released in these five years. Finding out that Timbaland happens to be the executive producer of Xscape (bringing other producers on-board like StarGate and J-Roc) almost seems like pouring more salt on the proverbial open wound, particularly with the album sounding like a modernized version of Jackson's past triumphs. However, in spite of all this, it's pretty surprising how much Xscape works - especially compared to the record's predecessor Michael.

Despite the more modern take on unreleased Jackson material, Xscape feels much more natural and lovingly crafted than Michael; despite still utilizing a highly synth-ridden sound and numerous elements of trap music, Timbaland remembers to put Jackson at the forefront of the experience. Most of the time, the music simply enhances his performance rather than intruding upon it, especially in moments like the classic 70s disco number "Love Never Felt So Good" or the big band-esque horn bursts of the soulful "Loving You." There's a great balance between the old and modern aspects of this record; the glossy sheen that populates the overall experience proves its relevance in today's pop, but many of the offerings (and of course Jackson's vocals) feel delightfully retro. Many moments are just a ton of fun, like the opening synth to "A Place with No Name" which recalls the funk of Stevie Wonder's 70s funk heyday before delving into a more r&b-oriented form, or the fast-paced synth-heavy "Slave to the Rhythm" whose frantic energy recalls Jackson's own classic song "Workin' All Day and Night." Of course, the varying dynamics and styles of previous Jackson album are still present here, even being incorporated in more of a hip-hip format instrumentally with songs such as the smooth "Chicago" and the lavishly produced and layered "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" to contrast with the other tunes mentioned.

Unfortunately, all of this comes at a price... the very definition of the phrase "pick your poison." There are two versions of Xscape, a standard version and a deluxe edition. If you get the standard version, be prepared for an incredibly brief record; seriously, it only clocks in at 34:25! However, if you get the deluxe edition, you get an overlong package filled with songs' "original versions" which frankly feel unfinished. There's too much unnecessary baggage to justify purchasing it, so you're presented with a frustrating decision. In the end, though, the original version remains recommended. It might be short, but wouldn't you rather have an appetizer that tastes amazing than an entire meal that tastes undercooked and ruins your day? In the end, it's just nice to hear a posthumous record that acknowledges the legacy and quality of Michael Jackson's material while trying to sonically expand upon his past glories. It may be a mixed bag at times, and waiting four years for 34 minutes of material may ire some listeners, but it's not like many people even expected or wanted another posthumous record of Jackson material anyway. Considering what kind of experiment this was, it turned out pretty damn well.



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user ratings (72)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
Luk31 (4)
Even though only five years have passed since Michael Jackson's tragic death, he's still busy with a...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
May 14th 2014


9885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

R.I.P. Michael

Also, I tried a more concise reviewing style this time around. Hope y'all like it

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2014


2959 Comments


inb4 fuck this album

Digging: The Weeknd - Kiss Land

Chrisjon89
May 14th 2014


3749 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

it's not terrible. lead single is cool and feels like an Off The Wall throwback/B-side, which is pretty sensible given the disco resurgence. it's always shaky ground for me when unreleased/rough work in progress tracks are made contemporary by whoever. some of it really misses the mark I think. in some cases I actually prefer the rougher originals.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Pizzahut
May 14th 2014


113 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Looks like Michael can't even XSCAPE his record contract after death.

Froot
May 14th 2014


1323 Comments


Is the lacklustre deluxe edition meant to reflect on the score? Because that should really have its own review/ratings page.

Review is gud. Probably gonna listen to this regardless of split opinions atm.

Digging: Thanatopsis - Axiology

Necrotica
May 14th 2014


9885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No, the brevity is pretty much the major reason for the 3.5

Froot
May 14th 2014


1323 Comments


o ok

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2014


22023 Comments


love never felt so good ft jt is a banger

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2014


2959 Comments


Agreed the song with JT is ok

Whispered4tw
May 14th 2014


622 Comments


The original version of Love Never Felt So Good is infinitely better. The original features a pleasant orchestral part in the middle, and the 'finished' version just Justin Timberlake breathing like he's fucking someone with some accompanied beats.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2014


22023 Comments


I prefer how the JT version starts

TzarChasm
May 14th 2014


154 Comments


The sheer number of artists who release albums posthumously is incredible. I don't know how they do it! I hope I can at least keep having sex after I'm dead. That would be good enough for me.

XingKing
May 14th 2014


10882 Comments


Just heard Love Never Felt So Good. Gotta check this out now

silentstar
May 14th 2014


2274 Comments


I thought Michael Jackson was dead

fromtheinside
May 14th 2014


18818 Comments


idk. maybe i don't understand why two albums in 5 years is an obvious cash grab?

Digging: Psicosis - The Crippled Machine That Moves the World

XingKing
May 14th 2014


10882 Comments


^I can't believe how many people are commenting that with the release of this album. It kills me a little more every time someone says it

cookiedivine
May 14th 2014


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Love Never Felt So Good is great obviously. Loving You is my personal favourite.
And I'd say the Deluxe version is worth getting just for the original version of Xscape - it's
fantastic, although the update still has its own charm (I like the way the sub bass is kind of out
of tune - creates a cool dissonance).
A Place With No Name has a cool synth hook (but that's all that does it for me)

The other songs are what I expected the whole album to be - uninteresting. Not bad, but not great.

What can you expect from an album based on unreleased/unfinished material? The songs were always
going to be dull.

And I agree that most of the 'original versions' sound unfinished.


cookiedivine
May 14th 2014


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Also Blue Gansta is a little embarrassing.

XingKing
May 15th 2014


10882 Comments


Well this was fairly disappointing. Reviews pointed to it being a worthy post-houmous album but I'd say only three songs were good and the rest probably shouldn't have been released. I love Michael but this was really iffy. 2.5-3 material

MMX
May 15th 2014


4832 Comments


Ehhh I think I'll just keep the single with justin



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