Thursday 30 June 2016

Kanye West's The Life of Pablo: Track by track review

Published 12/02/2016 | 16:17

Kanye West releases The Life of Pablo, his eight studio album
Kanye West releases The Life of Pablo, his eight studio album

The orbit of the earth slowed briefly his morning as Kanye West "dropped" his much anticipated (by Kanye) seventh album, The Life Of Pablo.

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The record has a lot to live up to – not because audiences are necessarily invested in Kanye the artist (rather than Kanye the celeb), but because West has boasted it's one of the greatest records ever made.

How do the facts tally with Kanye's version of reality?

Read on to find out…   

1: Ultra Light Beams 

A woozy, gospel-inflected number, with Kanye reflecting on his life (and his very strange dream world) in a slurred half-flow. Absurd - but then the song soars into a beautiful psychedelic crescendo and you're (almost) prepared to overlook the manic egotism.  

2: Father Stretch My Hands, Parts I and II  

Recalling 2008's opinion-splitting 808s And Heartbreak album, the second track is steeped in autotune, with some of Kanye's most bonkers NSFW lyrics. He sounds peeved throughout, as though dragged here against his will. Right back at you Kanye!  

3: Freestyle 4  

"Name one genius that ain't crazy," Kanye proclaims as electro grooves thunk and twinkle. In the unabashed tradition of Kanye the provocateur – another number to be gawped at in quasi-disbelief rather than listened to or, heaven forbid, enjoyed.  

4:  Famous  

Rihanna warbles the hook, but otherwise it's Kanye complaining about nonspecific slights and reversals. West sounds – and not in a good way – like Morrissey at his bitterest and most incoherent. Also – stop the internet! – he disses Taylor Swift, via the choice observation "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, yeah I made that b***h famous."  

5: Highlights  

Almost conventional, with more autotune and a rollicking keyboard riff at the fadeout.  Moby-style gospel samples enrich an already lush affair. See – Kanye CAN do it, when he's bothered.  

6: Feedback  

Maniacal conceptual interlude with West apparently inviting some chums around for an occult ritual. We dug it because we're wired like that. You may be appalled.  

7: Fade

The most "Kanye" song on the record – and, yes, that's a LOT of Kanye. "I am the new Kanye, the bad news, Kanye, the always rude Kanye"  he rhymes.  I think we can all agree he's speaking sense at last.  

8: FML  

A dense, droning number that  threatens to metastasize into a song normal people might wish to listen to. It never quite gets there – but, again, there are flourishes of the straightforward genius Kanye was, and could be again, if he surgically removes those shoulder-chips.  

9: Real Friends  

When you are famous – who can you trust? Such is the takeaway from this protean rumble of a tune. He sounds almost sad - the loneliness here is painfully palpable. For the first and only time, there is a sense West is giving away more than he perhaps intended.  

10: Wolves  

The "Kimye" anthem you were awaiting/dreading. Kanye he seems to be addressing his significant other in a rambling composition that both decries the burdens of fame yet reinforces the impression that, without an audience to scandalize, Kanye wouldn't know what to do with himself.

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