Review Summary: X's manifesto against the question-mark bug.
In this environment, it is obviously very difficult to remain as objective as possible while listening to XXXTentacion. He has been accused of truly horrendous things, and the lyrical content in many of his songs makes it even harder to ignore that. He was on the receiving end of so much reasonable hate, and this torrent of negative feedback has likely pushed him to change his style to something more palatable. In the recent past, he referred to his debut album '17' as his “collection of nightmares, thoughts, and real live situations [he has] lived”. This new album starts out in a fashion that is exactly alike. You, the listener, are still entering his mind. Starting out an album with an explanation as to why everyone should like it is an absolutely terrible idea. It is not avant-garde, nor experimental, merely a foolish gambit from an equally-foolish person. That’s why I refuse to let that play into my rating. I don’t expect him to be adept in professionalism or to have a refined presentation this early into his career, let alone his life. He only needs to be analyzed on sound and lyricism alone.
ALONE, PART 3
is a decent song. The lyrics are emotionally plain, accompanied by a safe and mellow beat with acoustic guitar. There’s a surprising amount of songs that sound ‘safe’ in comparison to some of X’s most popular tracks. While he still tends to mumble, his lyrics are no longer hiding behind a thick veil of completely blown-out frequencies. The following songs, Moonlight
, also refuse to present themselves as anything other than simple. Repetitive lyrics (”All alone, call my phone, make me feel right/Girl you know when you call, make me feel right”
) are delivered in a very soft tone. Any screaming that does happen on this album is minimal, and only appear when X actually wants to do something off the beaten path. That mindset does bring this project down quite a lot, because the sounds of roaring drums and squealing certainly have nothing to do with the rest of the songs. The album is inconsistent to the hilt.
A shining example of that mercurial sound would be Pain = BESTFRIEND
which features, of all people, Travis Barker. It begins with more acoustic guitar playing and crooning, followed by drumming that stops a couple miles short of being intense, as well as incomprehensible shouting from X. Any sort of a buildup to this moment is not present, so the change is jarring and unwarranted. In fact, that word could classify many of the songs on this album. Unwarranted. No one either expected or desired X to create a song called I don’t even speak spanish lol
, the majority of which is sung in Spanish by someone who is definitely not him. The piano ballad that goes by the title changes
does not sound awful to my ears, but it’s extremely confusing. Hope
is dedicated to the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last month. A nice sentiment, but now this album is automatically dated. Something that could arguably topple all of these examples is NUMB
, which is a plain-and-simple rock song, completely removed from the aesthetic this artist provided for himself before.
X does not know what he wants to be when he grows up. He can occasionally display his lyrical fairness and acceptable flow. Other times, he will ditch that style entirely to sing over a guitar, or yell into a microphone until the audio clips. It loses gold star stickers, not because it sounds outrageously bad, but because there are 10 different styles being tried out at the same time. None of them are very commendable. This does not conjure very much excitement for whatever he decides to do in the future.