When drunk, my conversations tend to leap wildly from subject to subject. Anecdotes, opinions, jokes and rants all tumble into one another. To me, my ramblings make coherent sense, but others may find my theme-hopping a confusing experience.
I think about this as I listen to Drunk - Thundercat's third solo album. There's funk, soul, jazz, changing time signatures, humour, sadness, some 'meowing' (A Fan's Mail), and a yawn (Captain Stupido). And there are 23 tracks in just over 50 minutes... like a drunken conversation, some have found it all a bit disorienting but it makes gorgeous sense to me.
Even the guest list looks a like it was dreamt up over a few drinks. Kendrick Lamar takes the sad breakup ballad Walk on By and turns it into a reflection on the criminal behaviour that he observed whilst growing up. Elsewhere, Wiz Khalifa more or less owns the hedonistic Drink Dat and Pharrell reflects on racial tension on The Turn Down.
But the real surprise is the single Show You The Way featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, singers that may be dismissed as risible dad rock artists from a bygone era. But their luscious harmonies are delightful, making the song one of the sweetest musical highlights of the year.
Thundercat's virtuso bass playing is evident throughout all of 'Drunk', most notably on the frantic jazz of Uh Uh and the delirious Blackkk. His lyrical observations meanwhile can be genuinely amusing. Frustrated by our reliance on technology, he wryly wonders 'Where would we be if we couldn't tweet our thoughts?' before drunkenly losing his phone on Bus in These Streets.
He's even amusing when being dumped: 'I'd rather play Mortal Kombat' he announces on the standout Friendzone, before concluding 'I'm better off by myself, loving you is bad for my health.' It's all delivered over a soundtrack of bass and synthesizers that give it, like most of the album, a retro-eighties groove.
Whatever genres Thundercat is dabbling with, whatever his concerns or his impressive guest list, he manages to bring all of the ingredients together to create one mellow and cohesive whole. Drunk is an ambitious album, drink it all in!
View/Listen to the entire playlist on YouTube here
Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]