REVIEW: T-Pain – rEVOLVEr

t-pain-revolver

Artist: T-Pain
Album: rEVOLVEr
Genre: R’n’b, hip-hop
Label: Nappy Boy, Konvict Muzik, RCA

This was a fun album to review. Not because it’s particularly good, but just for how often it makes such a spectacular tool of itself. You can’t but laugh and applaud its blatant and wilful badness. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, or if it’s just a symptom of me not listening to this type of music very often, but I almost feel refreshed after listening to it. I wish I had enough space to do an in-depth review of each track.

Further, I should point out that although this record is frequently ridiculous, it’s not actually that bad. Some of the tracks are deplorable, but some of them are fantastic. You won’t find a more bizarrely rewarding listening experience this year.

Firstly, “Bang Bang Pow Pow” is pretty awesome. It’s a twisted take on some kind of classical song, with wistful violins being bled dry against their will. The opening violin is a glimpse of fierce ambition that was totally unexpected, and the track elapses with breathless urgency. The token autotuning and sampling gives everything a weirdly space age feel, but the mixing of styles is oddly impressive, giving the eloquence of the classical instruments a kind of gritty realism. Lil Wayne totally destroys this of course, but we’ll choose to casually overlook him. He’s the first of a series of guest stars, the trend continuing on “Bottlez” which features Detail. I’m sure I’m not supposed to like this stuff, but this track is great fun. The samples are abrasive and heavy, the vocals sway in and around them with varying degrees of intensity in a combination more appealing than you’d expect. “It’s Not You, It’s Me” with Chuckle and Pitbull undergoes something of a club remix which lessens the album’s initial appeal (for me anyway), but it’s a good song. The synth add-ons and invigorating breakdowns ought to go down well on a dance floor and it has an exotic mystique all its own.

The first would-be ballad enters the fray with “Default Picture,” though it’s a bit edgier than most with blank lyrics referencing twitter and default pictures. It’s mostly a bastardised regurgitation of various bits of r’n’b and pop crossbred with horrible autotuning. The resulting mess is so fascinating that its mediocrity could yet have mass popular appeal. “5 O’Clock” is a complete car crash, with Lily Allen for added cringe factor.

By the time “Show-Time (Pleasure Thang)” rolls around I feel like I need some popcorn. We have a kind of curious lilting rhythm, hinting at a seedily romantic set-up. The auto-tuning which is ubiquitous in T-Pain’s music twists everything into a warped fantasy, while a piano that doesn’t know what it’s doing here hangs around inauspiciously and the lyrics take an increasingly fascinating journey through a somewhat stalker-ish mind. It’s a bit too slow and stilted to endear, but these things do – as noted before – tend to find an audience.

“Look At Her Go” reminds me of a quote from Independence Day. ‘Let’s kick the tyres and light the fires big daddy!’ (I mean this in an entirely good way.) After the bland lusting that spearheaded the previous tracks, this gets deeper and dirtier. A commanding, sleazy beat inches gradually into your psyche while the vocals throw frenzied rallying cries into the works. Chris Brown lacks all of Pain’s energy, but adds consummate guilty pleasure potential. “I Don’t Give A Fuk” is ludicrously funny, and I don’t know why. It could be the dismissive manner in which he sings the title, but I can’t take it seriously.

These songs are bookmarked by two fine slower numbers, “Mixd Girl” and “Drowning Again,” on which T-Pain manages to sound almost earnest. “Mixd Girl” is even tender, its high-pitched keys lending it a more naturalistic flair, and this gaping disparity with the other tracks works wonders for its appeal. “Drowning Again” follows the same organic route, all detachment and empathy. The instruments are mostly AWOL, a sole mournful piano accompanying him with assured poignancy. It’s deceptively absorbing and rates highly.

“Best Love Song” is an oddball mélange of keys and spunky rhythms, its later resurgence on a vague electric guitar coming across as the ambitious icing on a very bizarre cake. “Turn All the Lights On” ends things on a fine note. Its verses are blasé and uninteresting, but the Ne-Yo endorsed chorus is thumping and catchy, with all the necessaries to leave a slick aftertaste.

So, essentially, I say well played, Mr. Pain, well played. See, if Rihanna could make all her obvious innuendo this entertaining I wouldn’t have hated her album so much.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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