Thundercat Hits All The Right Notes With ‘Drunk’ (ALBUM REVIEW


The Grammy winning bassist-composer-singer Thundercat has come out with his biggest, most ambitious and best release to date. Drunk fuses Stephen Bruner’s (aka Thundercat) humor, bleakness, self-doubt, and modern age technique with retro love for early 80’s pop and digital beats over a long and winding road, bringing in perfect guests with zero hangover.

Not so much of a concept record as a thematic one, the disk has twenty-three tracks but most are short ideas that percolate, lead into the next brief thought, then disappear. What is constant is Bruner’s amazing bass work and stylistic adherence to light R&B using electro key runs, falsetto vocals and pop arrangements.

The nightclub is one part of the album’s focus and after some short intros, a dizzying realization occurs that a wallet may be left there, the track “Uh Uh” brings forth frenzied bass work with skittering jazz drums placing the listener directly first person into the disk, partying beside Thundercat. “Bus In These Streets” stays modern with assurances it is OK to disconnect from twitter/your phone while “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)” pulls in meowing silliness that belongs disconnected.

That playfulness is everywhere on the disk but it is also balanced out with seriousness and self doubt/loathing. “Walk On” faces issues directly with verses from Kendrick Lamar while the title track deals with the bleakness squarely as Bruner laments “I’d rather be up my mind/Than to be dead alive/I’m drowning away all the pain/Till I’m totally numb” goes to the heart of the drinking and drugging band-aids.

The level of introspection and self therapy are also evident on more upbeat musical numbers like “Tokyo”, “Friend Zone” and “Them Changes”. All contain a clear Parliament Funkadelic connection in tone and playing style; while the lyrics can be cutting or self-deprecating there seems to be a playful smile behind them. “Lava Lamp”, “Jethro” and “Day & Night” are the best mix of early 80’s R&B, dance beats and gorgeous ooh and ahh vocals leading into “Show You The Way” with pitch-perfect guests Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.

While that track stands out, the album really should be spun in its entirety. The bars and clubs are filled with joy, dancing, self-doubt, loathing, jealousy, silliness and hope, an exciting smooth journey that in the end “Blackkk” sums up nicely: “I want to experience all the light has to offer me/Bathing in your glow/Patterns in the light/Pressing your frontiers/Totally reborn/Don’t be afraid of death/We’ll be gone in the twinkling of an eye”

Enjoy the moment, “Drink Dat” with friends like Wiz Khalifa and revel in all it has to offer (good and bad); Thundercat has made a damn good soundtrack to do just that with Drunk.

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