Thundercat’s latest installment is a lot of fun and aptly disorienting. Drunk has a conceptual thread that sometimes gets lost, resurfacing after confusing detours in an overlong total tracklist of 23 songs. However, the project’s lack of consistent focus may be intentional given the album’s subject matter of intoxication.
The album opens frivolously with two skits preceding the first song-length track at a little over two minutes. ‘Captain Stupido’ signals the piece’s self-indulgence and hyperactivity with the lines “beat your meat, go to sleep”, although it features some interesting jazzy time signatures alongside a markedly immature fart sample. ‘Uh Uh’ showcases some virtuosic bass; its wordless vowel sound refrain foreshadows the backing vocals on one of the stand-out singles ‘Show You The Way’.
This song is probably 2017’s smoothest. Its phaser-filtered Fender Rhodes piano sounds accentuate the late 70s aesthetic. Kenny Loggins lends a great guest vocal here, as does Michael McDonald, and each are applauded in before they make their contributions. While too cheesy for some, it arguably only adds to the creamy atmosphere intended. The phat bass tones coupled with the sparkly keyboard flourishes make it prime Sunday Love Songs fodder.
‘Friend Zone’ is the highlight. The synth arpeggio is mouth-wateringly gorgeous with squeaky-clean highs on the rise and crisp staccato dips on the descent. An agitated bass is constantly pressing forwards as Thundercat combines nonsense with genuine frustration succinctly, if bluntly, expressed. He makes references to Mortal Kombat, in keeping with the videogame mentions peppered throughout the album, and even slips in the direct lift “bitch don’t kill my vibe” – citing his work with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly, who also makes an appearance on the brilliant ‘Walk on By’.
Thundercat’s Drunk is enjoyable, if at times incoherent. He is clearly a highly skilled musician. However, his guests inject a freshness among songs that, while not boring, can become tiresome. At 53 minutes, it’s not brief and one cannot help feeling that it could have been improved by more discerning selection, especially given that many of the tracks feel like facetious sketches.