The Lowdown: Following Tyler, the Creator’s metamorphosis from a cockroach-vomiting goblin to a flowering, introspective songwriter has been one of many decade’s true treats. With every report, Tyler has grow to be extra centered, honing his manufacturing expertise and discovering that the artwork of crafting albums is extra rewarding than shock worth and banger clout. This progress culminated in 2017’s Flower Boy, an album many believed to be a career-defining effort crammed with lush orchestrations and intimate examinations of loneliness and sexuality. Flower Boy provided Tyler an open door to a greater current the place he might reside his greatest life. Nevertheless, as Tyler chronicles on his 2019 masterpiece, IGOR, the current isn’t all the time paradise, and love is extra difficult than our daydream idealizations.
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The Good: To successfully convey the narrative themes of IGOR, Tyler produced and composed each second of each observe with Kubrickian precision. No buzzing synth line, dizzying arpeggio, or blanketing jazz chord lacks function however as a substitute serves to drown the listener in Tyler’s emotional arc from lovestruck (“Earfquake”) to anxious (“Operating Out of Time”) to brokenhearted (“Thank You”), and at last, to discovering closure (“Are We Nonetheless Pals?”).
Whereas the harmonic soulfulness expressed on IGOR is among the many greatest in hip-hop, Tyler’s alternative to govern vocal pitches for almost all of the album is without doubt one of the report’s boldest and most rewarding parts. Whereas Tyler stays in dreamy limbo, captive to his lover’s puppeteering attract, his high-pitched vocals denote a naiveté and childlike dependence that retains him chasing after the very individual he needs to run from. It’s not till Tyler declares, “Flip my lights on … I acquired my eyes open / Now I see the sunshine” on “What’s Good?” that we lastly hear the pure, brooding voice we’ve grown accustomed to, signaling Tyler’s return to self.
Igor proves an additional blossoming of Tyler’s self-confidence. Although rap has been his bread and butter over a number of albums, this album prominently incorporates a weak Tyler as a substitute singing and sharing the mic with phenomenal collaborators for a very good portion of the runtime. Solange, Playboi Carti, Kanye West, Cee Lo Inexperienced, Jack White, and plenty of extra supply their voices to complement Igor’s enrapturing tapestry with out jockeying for the highlight. The collaborative excellence of the album demonstrates Tyler’s embrace of an necessary lesson — artwork created by a group of reliable voices will all the time have better potential than that of only a Lone Wolf.
The Unhealthy: On IGOR, the entire is actually better than the sum of its elements. Many listeners who go to Tyler for rap bangers and standout single tracks could also be upset by the dearth of playlist fodder. Nevertheless, this was by no means the intent for IGOR, which is a decidedly stronger album for valuing narrative over accessibility.
The Verdict: IGOR is an album of subverted expectations, each for Tyler and his listeners. For Tyler, the hopeful door he had opened beforehand on Flower Boy turned out to be one other supply of loneliness and heartbreak. Nevertheless, as Jerrod Carmichael counsels on “New Magic Wand”, “Generally you gotta shut a door to open a window.” Tyler does exactly this on IGOR. By closing the door on the philosophies and musical approaches he used to take, Tyler discovers an open window, main him to new, peaceable energy and mastery of his craft.
Important Tracks: “Earfquake”, “Gone, Gone / Thank You”, and “Are We Nonetheless Pals?”