Review Summary: Feelings over structure.
A day before it was released, Tyler, the Creator stated that one shouldn't go into IGOR
expecting anything; not a rap record, not a follow-up to any record, not even as a record. But, to view any album in a vacuum feels a bit strange. Especially this one, which reminds me of both Flower Boy
and Cherry Bomb
. The noisy production values and all caps titles of Cherry Bomb
, as well as the the themes of love and the dreamy flow of Flower Boy
, are definitely here, but Tyler has fully fleshed out the synth-heavy soul that was featured in both of those records. Songs like “I THINK,” “RUNNING OUT OF TIME,” and “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” all show this stylistic change, but it leaves a bit to be desired.
The production on IGOR
, which ebbs and flows from harsh and noisy (“WHAT’S GOOD”) to laid back and droning (“IGOR’S THEME,”) is a bit everywhere, especially when it comes to mixing. Instrumentation is sloppily laid on as many of these songs progress, with booming synth-bass, airy soul-flavored synths, noisy digital percussion, and more are layered on one after another without much clarity, barring the occasional moment of reprieve. Messy is a great way to describe much of this record. There’s a lot of cool ideas, from the beat-shifting on “A BOY IS A GUN” to the strange composition of “NEW MAGIC WAND,” but it’s all too everywhere and scattered, without a clean, concurrent thought-line.
This said, I see the appeal of this sort of record structure, as that messy, everywhere composition vibes well with how disorienting the feeling of love can be. Tyler shows his skill in portraying emotions and how cluttered and tangled they can make one feel. Plus, many of these ideas, which end up reaching a bit over the half-baked mark, are the start to something better. IGOR
contains some really fun grooves, some legitimately proficient performances, Tyler’s endearingly imperfect vocals, and a few standout bangers (“WHAT’S GOOD” is a really strong winner when it comes to relistenable tracks). Most of these pieces of music are substantially flawed in some way, but also show a bit of promise.
could have used more time in the oven, to make a more coherent piece of art. And, if it wasn’t meant to be clean and the clutter of the record was intentional, that should be more clear to the listener. When I feel this, I feel like my mind is reaching for a purposeful reason for a fundamentally incomplete-sounding project. It’s understandable that one’s first foray into a new style is going to be a bit sloppy, but this is a sound that Tyler has been flirting with for a large amount of his career. Like I said, there are moments where Tyler’s creativity and powerful knack for expressing feelings shines through, but it’s just too unfinished-sounding for me to give it an unabashed thumbs up. At the same time, I find that, somewhere under some clumsy production and a bit of filler, Tyler’s creativity is bubbling subtly.
I don’t know, man, shit’s weird.