Review Summary: "Alex up the street called/Said he saw a bobcat..."
How can I do this album justice?
Released the 29th of April, The Impossible Kid is Aesop’s first full-length solo LP in nearly four years, its predecessor being the delightfully refreshing Skelethon. Since then, Aesop left the city in favor of a barn in the middle of nowhere and reflected upon friends, past loves, his failure in the world of visual arts, his family, and his own mental being. Consequently, TIK offers us an exclusive look into Ian Bavitz’s mind state delivered with the same wordy flow and keen production that we have come to love from him. His trademark lyricism and verbose flow return in prime form here, but now the audience gets to hear Aesop rap on a personal note; for example, “Get Out of The Car” focuses on Aesop’s reaction to the 2008 death of fellow Def Jukie Camu Tao (RIP):
"A" go dark in the face of the ***ed, when the ***ed was a friend I was basically done
Into the woods go his alien tongue
It was that or a textbook faking of funk
And I can't
Here go the hindsight
8 years been one long blindside
I could pinpoint seven more turns that occurred cause he never really healed from the first
It’s a very sad track, chronicling the loss Aes experienced and his decision to leave his old life behind. The album contains several of these moments, where Aesop is in a state of lament. He’s out of touch. He’s damaged. It’s such a departure from his earlier work, capped off with Rock's well-known lyrical style. Once again, Aesop puts his near-limitless vocabulary to good use, spitting multi-laden verses such as "They're more scared of you, than you them/Although, one of us chews limbs, and one has two chins" (from "Defender") and "My address, a made up language written out in living glyphs/lifted from demonic literature and religious text/Telephone, uncovered by purveyors of the Ouija/then checked against the CBGB women's room graffiti" (from "Shrunk"). Thankfully, however, we get some more lighthearted moments such as “Kirby” (a song about a cat) and “Defender" (about a bobcat running loose in the neighborhood), which captivate the listener and balance out the record (and in the case of "Rings", is unusually straightforward). It's also worth mentioning that this album follows a loose narrative, one of personal experience and growth. This adherence to a concept (also utilized on Labor Days) strengthens the album as a whole and ties all the tracks together.
In terms of production, Aesop handles the entire album himself. And it’s damn well worth the effort, pairing strong boom bap-styled drum loops with a synth-built electronic sound similar to what we saw in Skelethon. However, the overall effort here in The Impossible Kid is more cohesive than in the record before it (instrumental and song topic are in harmony here, unlike some of the records on the previous LP). All of the instrumentals excel here. The opener "Mystery Fish" slams straight away, as deep kick drums collide with reverberated horns and scratch samples. "Lazy Eye" features a synth I can only describe as "wonky", contributing to a funky beat and one of the catchiest on TIK. The lead single "Rings" has the distinction of being the heaviest beat featured, its arpeggio-like squeaks meshing perfectly with the rap-rock-styled drums and the electric guitar riffs. These and all the other tracks make for the best album Aesop has ever composed, perfecting the balance between incredible songwriting and wonderful beats that he lacked in prior releases.
At less than 49 minutes long, TIK puts on a show but does not overstay its welcome. The album stays incredibly fresh over multiple plays thanks to the deep abstract rhymes and extremely catchy instrumental work. Personally, this self-examination combined with the production makes for one of, if not the best project Aesop Rock has released. *** ‘Views’, man; I’ll stick with this for now.