- Say You Will: 🤷♂️
- Welcome to Heartbreak: 👎🏻
- Heartless: 👍🏻
- Amazing: 👎🏻
- Love Lockdown: 🤷♂️
- Paranoid: 👎🏻
- RoboCop: 👎🏻
- Street Lights: 👎🏻
- Bad News: 🤷♂️
- See You In My Nightmares: 👎🏻
- Coldest Winter: 🤷♂️
- Pinocchio Story: 👎🏻
Two words kept creeping into my thoughts while I was listening to this album: Self-indulgence, and Over-saturation.
There was a time when I really enjoyed some of Kanye West’s music. Particularly Touch the Sky. Then I read some thing about how (as I remember it) he claimed he was anti-literate; opposed to reading. This is probably one of those things I’m mis-remembering, because when I try to find reference to this now, the closest I came to a source is a Blogspot blog post from 2009 that doesn’t even load correctly where he’s quoted as saying
I am a proud non-reader of books.
At any rate, wherever I came up with that notion, it was enough to turn me off his music until today. At my brother’s recommendation I listened to 808s and Heartbreak, and I was honestly pretty disappointed. I was not expecting to like it much, but I was expecting it to sound good and it just didn’t. Everything was just super compressed like I was listening to a bad mp3 rip for a player that could only hold half the songs at a standard sampling setting so it had to be down-sampled even further. This is especially obvious on Amazing and Bad News.
Anyway, onto the two words (self-indulgent and over-saturated): I read a little bit about this album while I was listening to it, so I get that it’s all about him dealing with the loss of his mother and the end of a relationship, but even then it felt a little too “woe is me” for my taste; particularly Welcome to Heartbreak and Pinocchio Story. Side note: I can’t believe that song made the cut. It sounds SO BAD. It’s a live recording from a concert in Singapore and it sounds like it was recorded on someone’s phone from outside the venue. I get that’s it’s a freestyle and so it’s probably the only recording, but holy hell it’s bad.
My other problem was how much Stuff there was in this album. It’s hard to really nail down what I mean, but it seemed like instead of trying to figure out why the album didn’t sound good they just threw more layers and more instrumentation at it. The keenest example I can think to give is in Love Lockdown. There’s a militaristic sounding drum part that I actually really enjoyed, even though I thought the beat was too simple. It’s repeated later in the song and instead of playing the same part but jazzing it up a bit, there’s just like 5 more instruments added over top of it. You can have too much of a good thing and this album is lousy with proof.