These songs are almost completely humorless, but there’s a quavering vulnerability behind Win Butler’s deep voice, a sense that each soaring chorus is sung through stifled tears. It grants the sometimes-clunky lyrics a crucial authenticity.
Pretty much every aspect of his third full-length, Graduation, reflects this bigger and grander Kanye, far removed from the one that many fell in love with on his highly anticipated 2004 debut, The College Dropout, but certainly no less talented.
This is a grownup album, made for grownups. It’s the sort of record Nick Hornby could have enjoyed without all of his Kid A angst about being too old to interpret a record’s cryptic signs.