Just like on the album cover, Thundercat’s “Drunk” will creepily surface into your regular playlist. Quirky but true musings? Check. Star collaborators? Double check. Sleek tunes to back it all up? Triple check.
“Drunk” is the bassist, singer and producer’s third album. Based in Los Angeles, he is known for his playing and production on projects by fellow Los Angeles producer Flying Lotus and rapper Kendrick Lamar. His playing contributions to Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly” earned him a Grammy Award in 2016.
With a playtime of 51 minutes, he puts together 23 tracks, most of them compact and under 3 minutes.
Forget reading between the lines for most of his lyrics. Thundercat cuts through the fluff by being blunt with simplistic, yet impactful, — and often amusing — flair.
In the intro “Rabbot Ho,” he ends with “Let’s go hard, get drunk and travel down a rabbit hole” and the wackiness begins. Enter phrases like “Everybody wants to be [a] cat, It’s cool to be a cat” on “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song II)” and “You stuck me in the friend zone, that’s that bullshit” on “Friend Zone.”
At times, he cuts through the fluff directly by ditching the chorus and breezing through verses.
Thundercat muses whimsically about life as a cat (he has one named Tron), people’s overdependence on technology, bashing a friend zoner and having a thrilling time in Tokyo (pachinko machines, yes…suicide forest, no).
But towards the middle of the album, he begins to take a more serious tone.
Pharrell joins him on “The Turn Down” to talk pollution, subliminal messaging and the race war that he sees as a class war.
“Inferno” is a nod to a crazy world, where “madness and black skies of smoke” are rampant. “The descent into madness” is very accurate and fitting to current times.
Supporting those lyrics, Thundercat brings to the table a lot of funk.
Puncturing the music along the way -among other effects- are cat meows, snoring sounds and a fart. Every one of these elements is questionably interesting but fit with the anime-loving, video-gaming nerd persona he puts on.
Two particular highlights are the album’s first single, “Show You the Way” and other track, “Uh Uh.”
“Show You the Way” draws on the influence of his collaborators, singers Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. Thundercat spins outdated soft rock to work for him. His voice and Loggins’ delightfully corny voice against McDonald’s gruff one combine well in a smooth, groove-driven track.
The first realization that hits when the jazzy “Uh Uh” comes on is the impressively rapid tempo. Against a punchy beat, the lively bass melody intertwines with the upbeat piano as Thundercat sings an accompaniment.
His varied lyrics are a smart move and choosing not to bog them down with “hidden meanings” is even smarter.
Rarely has someone made the day to day things in life so entertaining. With a little humor and sound effects, Thundercat managed that brilliantly. Oh, and the music is top-notch too.
Now don’t even wonder. Go listen to it.
Rating: 4.5 stars