Album Review: Thundercat’s “Drunk”

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Thundercat is a good musician; the truth of this statement is unassailable. Even a musically-illiterate person like me can appreciate the production and musicianship of his latest album “Drunk.” Thundercat sports funky bass lines and an 80s sound on the album’s lead single “Show You the Way” featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. “Blackkk” sounds like re-imagined jazz fusion. Much of the album sounds like Thundercat got lost in the 80s and decided he would stay rather than find his way out. Most people, including myself, wouldn’t want to be stuck in the 80s, but Thundercat makes it sound good.

Thundercat is goofy. Exhibit A: The lyrics of the second track “Captain Stupido.” The songs advises the listener to “comb their beard” and “beat their meat.” Exhibit B: Asking Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald to do a song with him. It’s not that they aren’t good musicians, but at this point they’ve reached that level of fame where it’s hard to take them seriously. You could call it infamy if the word didn’t have negative connotations. Doing a track with Loggins and McDonald would be like doing one with Randy Newmann after Family Guy made fun of him. Thundercat is obviously aware of the musical ability of these people and of their pop culture stature.

Thundercat is a nerd. Not an insult, just an observation. The Dragonball-Z references on “Tokyo”, the short but nerdy “Jameel’s Space Ride”, and Thundercat’s overall sense of humor which borrows from the Tim & Eric school of un-comfortableness. The whole album is a kind of study in the ironic aesthetic of Thundercat. You’re often left wondering, “Is he serious?” Of course you’re not talking about the production of the songs which are super-well put together and great to listen to; you’re talking about the song “Them Changes” which tells a story about a guy who has a broken heart or a missing heart that is literally causing him to die. At times it’s hard to tell if it’s a metaphor or if it’s a gory joke or both. The song is a jam, just a great, funky tune, but is Thundercat actual expressing emotion on the track? I have no idea.

Thundercat is awesome. Whether or not he’s being completely ironic or a little bit sincere is unimportant. The album is terrific to listen to and it gets better as the album progresses. And in the end you do seem to get pieces of Thundercat emerging like the half-submerged head on the album cover (speaking of which, is the album cover referencing the funktastic “Maggot Brain”?). The song titles and the lyrics of the songs give you some clue that he might deal with insomnia or partying issues (3 AM), he might like to drink (“DUI”, “Drunk”, “Drink Dat”), and that he is definitely self-aware (“I Am Crazy”).

Or maybe those titles don’t mean anything. I am certain it doesn’t matter because this album is a great listen regardless. It easily gets an A and it should get your money or at the very least some time on your Spotify. Click here to listen now.

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