Monday, May 18, 2009

Album Review: Eminem - Relapse (3/5)

After a an almost 5 year break from the spotlight --a break replete with fights against drug addition and various stints in rehab, Eminem returns with his latest offering, Relapse which follows up to 2004s Encore, which essentially joined a string of brilliant offering's from the rapper. Whilst this is being looked at as a 'comeback' album, indispensably this is nothing new, Relapse is 20 tracks long, with some skits here and there, brimming with moments of derogatory and (give or take) offensive humor, austere moments and just plain ridiculous moments, this has been fundamentally the winning formula for all the rappers past work.

In some instance the formula seems a tad played out when it comes to, Relapse. "We Made You," the albums lead single is inherently a fun, uptempo number --backed with horns, piano, drums, a captivated jingle and an exceptionally catchy chorus-- the downside is the obvious shot-takes at today's most faddish celebrities. The song takes shots as the likes of Jessica Simpson and Sarah Palin, the lyrics actually aren't that funny, so really I'm not entirely won over by this, It's the addictive chorus that makes me give it a chance.

Relapse is essentially a safe follow up to Encore. It spawns a shielded balance between its good, not-good-enough and bad tracks (hence its mediocre rating). The album opens with "Dr. West" a haunting skit that finds Eminem confronting his drug addition, admittedly it is actually quite amusing, following swiftly is "3am," the albums current single, this is among the best on the album, pacing with drums and soaring persistent vocals in the background. Another highlight is "Stay Wide Awake," which issues a nice eerie vibe --similarly to T.I.'s "Dead and Gone," except more haunting but not nearly as compelling as his earlier, more haunting songs like "Cleain' Out My Closet" or "Mosh."

"Old Time Sake," thumps a charming piano and handclap bass --although Eminem's weird rap style on here is a tad awkward and the references to his foreskin isn't in the slightest appealing, but it's one of my favorites on here. "Deja Vu" is another favorite, its preceding skit "Mr. Mathers," takes a CSI approach before bursting into "Deja Vu" which fashions a cordial kinetic handclap bassline --also supporting that key haunting element.

"Beautiful," is the best song on the album. It's the only number that can hold (a dim) candle to his masterpiece's like "Stan," with Dido, although obviously it's not as good. The song starts out with some vocals and faint electronic guitar strings, before bursting into all its drum and string glory. It's another daunting number, which should give you an idea of how good Eminem can be at his most serious moments.

On the flip side the album also holds up its end on the clunkers. The horns in "My Mom," are very nice, but does come under the worst on the album. "Insane," is way too pornographic to go into detail --the lyrical nature is way too specific to be considered funny. I like the beat in "Same Song & Dance," but that's as far as it goes. The closing track "Underground," is just a failure all round.

A bit disappointed, but not entirely, Relapse could have been worse, it could have chosen the 100% funny route and ended being an entire disaster. Thank God for the more serious moments planted with the album.

Best: Beautiful, We Made You, 3am, Stay Wide Awake, Old Time Sake, Deja Vu

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