Review Summary: Perfect Hair is a cosmic experience.
One of the premier lexicomane MCs in the underground rap scene, Mr. Regan Farquhar has been making music since the early 2000's that can only be described as jazzily obtuse. In his early albums he would use straight classic jazz tracks as his instrumentals. On this last full album of his, he chooses more electronic instrumentals, but is no less opaque with his flows. (lyrics from genius.com)
The first track "Retirement Ode" opens up with a voice rapidly switching between the right and left side of your headphones that states the quite hilarious line, "The chef used during the seven days in which Perfect Hair was recorded cost roughly... everything". The instrumental is an indication of what we will be seeing throughout the rest of the album. The synths play loudly with backup singers adding to it. Favorite line: "I'm a frequent flier/and a decent liar/and that's a lie in itself but you knew that, come on."
The second track, "Bliss Point", is probably my least favorite on the record, with another beat provided by Busdriver himself. The lyrics deal with one of my least favorite tropes of the Hellfyre Club-type rappers. He talks about hip-hop as a general state, but seems more to be talking about people talking about hip-hop, using very obvious personification. Not especially interesting flow here, it's okay. Although the second verse is more engaging, with him rapping almost entirely in triplets. Favorite Lyric: "Who is hip-hop dating?/A holographic rendered Pac?/Or what does hip-hop check in the gender box?"
However just okay "Bliss Point" is, the next track is absolutely incredible. "Ego Death", the third track on Perfect Hair, is also certainly my favorite. A rather insane cut that features Aesop Rock and Danny Brown, with a beat that sounds like the Large Hadron Collider. All put out a fantastic verse. Favorite Lyrics: Busdriver: "Cause my average day is for the body of aegis/they're prompting these sieges/we cry to these seniors/living inside of splotchy adidas". Aesop Rock: Analog mono-poly Man'o'War/walloping the auto-poly avatar/Mind on his Mallomars/Money on the iron lung/Clumsy with the can of worms/ushers you behind the sun". Danny Brown: "Countdown to extinction, no nigga not Megadeth/so many dead rappers, can't even take baby steps/walking over carcasses of artists in my garden/been nice with this shit since Nas was writing past the margin". Next is "Upsweep", where the beat fades in but never really seems to get there. Busdriver uses his most sing-songy flow, which isn't my favorite, but he brings enough excitement to not make it boring. Favorite lyric: "We painted our faces on a permanent moon/to avoid being type cast as surrogate coons/but there is no treatment for American gloom/so I'm taking my reverberant room".
Another favorite track of mine, "When the Tooth-lined Horizon Blinks", not only has a confusing title but also an extremely catchy chorus for an underground hip-hop track and a decent Open Mike Eagle feature. The beat is fading in and out of existence at a rapid pace. This track is actually very fun with Busdriver's manic flow on full display here. Favorite lyrics: Open Mike Eagle: "Sipping lukewarm out of open grenades/rocking a fresh Sam Kinison coat and beret/high school pep rally yelling vote for Bernade/drowning my vocals in the broken delay". Busdriver: "And all my time is spent treating home studios like panic rooms/so rare and colorful pantaloons that turns into a pay-day/now I vay-cay in the Cameroons."
Next is "Motion Lines", which is probably the darkest beat on the album. It almost reminds me of Oneohtrix Point Never's "Replica", but not that level of nocturnal. This is the first track on the album with a real concept. It's about an ex of Busdriver's. He pins the blame on them in the first verse, but points it back towards himself with the bridge. Favorite Lyric: "It's impossible to love and cannot keep an open mind/so you left me where I was/shredded in your motion lines."
The next track "Eat Rich", might sound like a celebration of being wealthy, but in the hook he instead states "I'm so hungry man/I could eat the rich". He talks about being an average person, as an underground rapper who is certainly not rolling in cash. Favorite Lyric: "Before that endorphin high/I take orders like George Takei".
I'm not quite sure of the meaning of the next track, "King Cookie Faced (For Her)". The title would suggest a love song, but Busdriver doesn't really talk about anything specific. He does bring some good bars, and when it comes to production from Busdriver himself on this album, this is second only to Motion Lines. Favorite Lyric: "Pundits say I'm partisan when I'm indifferent/cuties think they fine china when they chipped".
The penultimate track "Can't You Tell I'm a Sociopath" has a sinister beat and chaotic vocals that are layered on top of one another. It also features a quality but brief feature from VerBS. "Subculture anthro-poly-amour-indie glamour/Simply wholesome chicks want me to hold 'em, stroke 'em". Favorite lyric: "I rep that L.A. nigga without the mineral peel/hopping off those minstrel's heels/my dap hand stays upturned/I stuff urns with buzz terms/cause I'm crazed".
The final track, "Colonize the Moon", is a ten minute epic, with multiple parts. Kind of like a space "B-Boy Bouillabaisse". A vocal feature from Pegasus Warning, and the album ends on a high note.
Perfect Hair is Busdriver’s most varied effort content-wise, but also his most consistent quality-wise. The album feels like an experience through the stars on the level of Vektor’s Black Future. This album brings back a hallmark of many classic hip-hop albums, where the MC is the main star and brings you through the world of the record (e.g. Illmatic). But, that is fused with a modern sound and a cosmic story and tone. I think this is a great album and one of the best hip-hop records of 2014, though though I do prefer Uncommon Nasa - New York Telephone, Clipping - CLPPNG, Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2, and Flying Lotus - You’re Dead! if that counts.