(Brainfeeder Records)

Album review: Thundercat’s ‘Drunk’ is genre-bending and intoxicating

Thundercat released his third studio album Drunk on Friday. The album boasts 23 new tracks that possess little meaning, but offer a pleasurable resonance.

Drunk‘s genre is hard to define. It is a mixture of R&B, electronic, hip-hop and even some soul. Thundercat uses a series of unique rhythms and beats on top of absurd lyrics throughout the album. The singer also incorporates famous artists like Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams in some of his pieces, adding unique influences to the magnitude of his work.

A common trend among all of the songs is Thundercat’s high falsetto singing voice. His impressive range comes through in the opening song “Rabbot Ho,” where his voice is accompanied by a slow and twangy keyboard melody. Despite the rather ridiculous lyrics, the song has a calming and swanky appeal to it. Lasting only 39 seconds, “Rabbit Ho” left me wanting to experience more of the artist’s material.

The structure of the songs also adds a diverse flavor to all of the tracks. “Uh Uh” featuring Zack Sekoff starts off as if it could be a slow ballad, but after about 23 seconds the pace suddenly diverges into a crazy and mind-blowing array of fast-paced sounds. In particular, the drums, tambourine and keyboard come together to form a rapid staccato medley.

Thundercat also uses peculiar sound effects in the song “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II),” which opens with him repeatedly singing “meow.” The meows on top of a passive guitar melody add to the awesome randomness of the song. The lyrics have no relation to the title and merely reflect the artists’ affinity toward being a cat. This song is just one of several pieces in the album that force you to forget about the context and just accept Thundercat’s poetic justice.

On top of using sounds to make his music unique, Thundercat incorporates a funky mix of `80s psychedelic vibes and soulful Motown infusions. “Jameel’s Space Ride,” recalls the instrumentals in an upbeat 80’s workout video. Fading trumpets and blaring synth resemble the style of songs like “Take On Me” by a-ha or any of Madonna’s hits. The musician also incorporates his soulful voice alongside accompanying harmonies, adding a `50s component.

Despite Thundercat using complex and sporadic beats and structures in his songs, the lyrics he sings are kooky and simple. The meaning of the words rarely correlate with the title of the tracks and make little sense. In the song “Captain Stupido,” Thundercat sings “comb your beard” and “Jesus take the wheel.” Even though the lyrics seemingly don’t seem to go well together, you can infer that the singer could have had a wild and intoxicating night out. The song concludes with the lyric, “I think I left my wallet at the club,” validating the inference.

My personal favorite track is “Tokyo.” The beat resembles an electric, mainstream flow and the lyrics are both entertaining and actually have some sort of plot line. Thundercat describes his favorite aspects of the city, including eating too much fish and spending money on anime. The song possesses all of the aspects I described earlier that enhance the album, and it has a fun and energetic vibe.

Drunk is an entertaining and mind-bending album. Listeners should definitely approach this album with an open mind, or else the songs could be hard to wrap your head around. Despite that factor, the oddities embedded in the tracks are what make the album so great.

Drunk gets a 7/10. The songs are definitely an acquired taste, but to those who have it, they are really fun to jam to.

Thundercat is currently touring around the United States, Canada and Europe.

Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Sam Danshes at sam.danshes@colorado.edu.

About Sam Danshes

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