Post-pretentiousness: the whole album sounds like freestyling over your indie-head bestie playing random mashups and you recorded it off a very good mic in some random field
-1 points because it isn't Kanye West
-1 points because he said 5G
-1 points because Ritchie only said "check it" once
+99 points because this is the second album to make me cry
by the time i get to phoenix 🖼️❤️☀️🧍🏻
mind-boggling (middle nine)
what if you had a campfire party with your friends but self-immolated mid-party? as they cried and screamed for help
what if you ran away from your killer at the speed of light, in the middle of the night
what if you drove while you were drunk and crashed into a pillar, and you see life and death before your eyes
while not entirely a posthumous tribute to late bandmember groggs, by the time i get to phoenix taps into exactly what the late rapper would've wanted. this is a testament to their collective vision as a trio, not a duo. groggs chose the title (cue the isaac hayes)
groggs told them to cook up some weird shit, and that's exactly what they've done. groggs has about 3 performances, if i had to put a rough figure out, on here. he does have some writing credits as well though.
outside the conceptual masterpiece "top picks from you" and another conceptually watertight single, "knees", this feels more like a celebration of the experimentation various genres have been going through over the past few years. this includes the "windmill-scene" of post-punk acts, some of which have samples and other credits here.
the production on this record, mainly the sampling seems like the fruit of someone like every odd AOTY member. hear me out: the samples on here seem like they were straight out of a proper music aficionados book. they seem to add onto the factor of taste in music influencing your creativity quite directly. parker has crafted one of the most ominously beautiful and jarring mush of genres in hip-hop history, out of an odd touch of luck. sure, artists like slauson malone, coin locker kid, shadi, akira yamaoka, actress, earl sweatshirt, death grips and food for animals have done stuff in this vein, but this project has a lot more salient features that make it stand out.
whenever the vocal performances take prominence, they make for the most cathartic moments on the record. the end of knees features ritchie and groggs contradict each other, as ritchie implores groggs to put the bottle down, and finally groggs admits that he really, really needs to. the whole track does the same, and it seems heartfelt and almost in the vein of what on gp was when it first came out.
same goes for top picks for you. this track features some of the most absurdly impressive songwriting i've ever witnessed. top picks for you tends to be a banner message prominently featured above netflix homepages and for other streaming services, and the same goes for "jump back in", which lists movies and shows you stopped watching halfway through.
ritchie is on groggs' account, or an account he shares with groggs, and on the chorus he mentions he is reluctant to log out. and the fact that groggs wont "jump back in" to the shows and films he once binged on is pretty saddening to note. he also goes on talking about the algorithms that negatively track your patterns to cater advertisements and sponsored content tailored to you, as a marketing gimmick. yet, this track's main concept lies in how groggs' digital footprint serves as a reminder to ritchie, and also makes it feel like he's still around, except in the cloud.
along with the samples, well, the glue, parker corey, makes everything absolutely watertight, making one of the best first listen experiences i've had since my beautiful dark twisted fantasy. outside is one of the greatest songs i've ever heard, it sounds like your running from ominous danger posted on the horizon: it's also instrumentally gorgeous as morgan simpson of black midi steps in with some neat drumming to go with the flow.
superman that lets all emotions unfurl, even if the vocals can be divisive. it's absolute madness and is reflective of black midi more than it is of the source of sample, black country new road.
footwork in a forest fire does the same thing: sounding near ritualistic, while ground zero and smoke don't clear sound like both fad-horror movies and plateauing heart patterns at the same time.
postpostpartum is a spin on conventional hip-hop, and it does it well. bye storm is nearly a power pop song give how uplifting it is, but the lyrics only convey more downward spiraling
and zeroh's efforts on the mixing side are surprisingly good despite the project being this disjointed
this whole project contains a man long gone's footprint, that too a wonderful human being. i can't help but ponder upon how his four children and his partner have come to fathom that he's gone. he always seemed like a positive, laid-back and refreshingly kind person: hence i feel like it'd be disrespectful to pinpoint it's flaws, but i think there are some very slight flaws to this near-perfect, once in a year record.
the track wild wild west is disjointed and quirkily unique in the same way everything else here is, but it strikes me as particularly underwhelming, even though its a good song. its lyrical concepts are malformed, and amongst a sea of hundreds, it's an 80. which still makes it a great song, yet it sounds more like denzel curry's unlocked than this opus of an injury reserve project.
the vocal and rap performances are actually, surprisingly, a step down from their previous project. note: i love that project almost as much as i love this, so that simply means i love the lyricism on that thing and the production here. tracks like new hawaii, jailbreak the tesla, three man weave and what a year it's been were filled with lyrics i both relate to, and formerly or currently live by. with the absence of groggs, the lyrical content seems to have hit a little slump, which prevents me from going all out and crowning this with a hundred. but the lyrical highs here are the highest injury reserve have ever been, if only they weren't so scarce.
not even close to a dealbreaker because i absolutely adore the project either way.
overall: not only does this album function as a beautiful tribute and funeral to their late bandmate, and what could be the funeral to this group in general, a group that went from making lighthearted, earworm experimental hip-hop tracks i adore, to making something in this vein, something that breaks more new ground than any other relatively popular record from this calendar year. if so, they have ended things on a high note, and i wish them all the luck in all their future endeavors. parker corey and ritchie both have long lives ahead of them, they are both in their twenties, and if they do plan to go solo to wash away the bad memories of 2020, i'll be open to listen to what they present.
whether it be the litle pager beeps on ss san francisco, or the traffic sounds off bye storm, this project sounds like it's stuck in the woods, or making it's way out. it sounds way more nocturnal and campy then anything the group, or the genre has ever laid its hands on.
on par with the silent hill osts for being convincingly gripping