Slowthai is a polarising character at best. Jumping from dancing with IDLES at the mercury prize award show during their performance of Never Fight A Man With A Perm, to being close to cancelled for some pretty questionable behaviour at the NME awards, being saved only by a quick statement from Catherine Ryan claiming that everything that took place was all in good fun. It’s no surprise that many people either love him or hate him, and his music has followed that trend. His first album brought with it something energetic and exciting. Soaked in punk aggression that can usually only be found far from the mainstream, Slowthai took inspiration from many different genres to make the playlist generations ‘Original Pirate Material’. So where next after ‘Nothing Great About Britain’?
Well after going through the previously mentioned ups and downs post album release, finally news headlines subsided for a new album ‘TYRON’. Clocking in at around 35 minutes with fourteen tracks. From the outside it seems as though Slowthai has stuck to his short and snappy guns that brought him so much success on his debut, but on first listen (for the most part) that just isn’t the case. Take a song like ‘i tried’ for example, at just over two minutes. The last thing I was expecting here was a late 90’s west coast track dripping in pride, but that’s exactly what I got, and it fucking works.
I’m not saying it works all the time, and as the album is split in half (first half titled in CAPS, second lower case) there seems to be a sort of Jekyll and Hyde quality to it (if Jekyll and Hyde was about an album that starts off quite shit and then gets good half way through) because that’s kind of what it boils down to. Unfortunately, the first half of this album just doesn’t work, with its American style instrumentation sounding almost forced, and out of place on songs like ‘MAZZA’ and ‘CANCELLED’. The features work, especially A$AP Rocky’s on ‘MAZZA’, because his vocals marry with the instrumental far more naturally than at any point in the track with Slowthai.
It’s not all bad. ‘VEX’ comes close to what listeners have come to expect from Slowthai at his best, and ‘WOT’ is also close behind that, but apart from that, there just seems to be a lot of the aggression missing that made the first album so great in 2019, with it being traded for more American, commercial beats, and for the most part, forgettable lyrics. But then we come to the more laid back, understated, lower case side of the album and the story changes.
Despite again missing the aggression that I loved on his debut, the tracks on the second half of the album are executed brilliantly for the most part. Songs like ‘nhs’ and ‘push’ sounding as close to beautiful as Slowthai has ever come, the later of the two with a brilliant Deb Never feature that on paper would look confusing, but bookends the track perfectly.
‘terms’ also utilises the features of Dominic Fike and Denzel Curry excellently, and by the time you get to the final track, ‘adhd’ you’ve almost forgotten about the first half of the album. Ultimately despite the fact that this album is missing what made me interested in Slowthai in the first place, it’s undeniable that he has evolved his sound to an interesting and far more complex place. The album is a little inconsistent but now that he has shown that he has many different sides to him it will be interesting to see where he goes next.