After a rough couple years where he lost his footing, IV Play reaffirms The-Dream as R&B’s most tireless auteur.
IV Play is a simple expose on the least common denominator thoughts of a [likely straight male] club patron.
It feels as if the lack of stand-out hits on IV Play is a deliberate move to preserve his self-styled auteur position within an increasingly divergent R&B scene
Notwithstanding a couple musical blemishes, IV Play diligently continues The-Dream’s tenure as one of the premier acts in R&B.
After the commercial flop of his recent Internet-released album, Terius Nash: 1977, the producer took a step back to acknowledge what he does best: collaborate.
It would feel like more of a triumph if only we could keep from judging it next to its four predecessors, sonically expansive and thematically dramatic albums that tower — at least for now — over this one.
The brilliant auteur we fell in love with is still in here somewhere. He’s just buried under layers of pretense.
More often than we'd like, The-Dream attempts a filthiness that juxtaposes his safe beats and familiar song structures, lacking the inherent dirtiness that The Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye brings so naturally.
So Dream isn’t in a laughing mood, but he’s wrong to leave behind the guileless sense of wonder that used to be his calling card—the imposture frowning his way through IV Play doesn’t cut it.
There are a lot of moments here that are growers if for no other reason than Dream’s ability for cramming songs full of mini-hooks, but again, thanks to the constantly dreary atmosphere The-Dream’s lyrics often come off as totally absurd.
This is an album of average to good songs, with only a few highlights.
While his latest album is brimming with similar technical prowess, the lack of drive makes IV Play momentarily gratifying, but essentially disposable.