Thundercat wants to take you on an intergalactic space journey. In his third album, Drunk, the multi-genre jazz guitarist exhibits exactly why he was such an integral force in two of the most universally-acclaimed albums of the past half-decade: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Kamasi Washington’s The Epic.
Thundercat is a bass guitar virtuoso who comfortably tiptoes the lines of jazz, hip-hop, fusion and new age. Armed with a silky-smooth falsetto, legitimately hilarious storytelling and off-kilter jokes, Thundercat unleashes the aptly titled Drunk as arguably his best work to date.
“Lava Lamp” is a sultry love song that borrows elements of slow jam from 90’s titans like Boyz II Men and Keith Sweat. The Flying Lotus-assisted “Jethro” is an escapade that manages to be both concise and exploratory and “Drink Dat” is a fail-proof radio single that explores the perils of… drinking.
The holistic approach to styles and genre are evident in Drunk. Frequent collaborators like Flying Lotus and Sounwave pop up throughout the album, while Kendrick Lamar delivers another signature verse in “Walk On By”. In the initial single, “Show You the Way”, Thundercat resurrects the magic of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, essentially demonstrating how a standard r&b song should sound like.
As intricate and impressive as the music is on Drunk, the greatest aspect of the album might be Thundercat’s honest writing. He pays tribute to his love for Japanese culture in “Tokyo” and writes an ode to video games in “Friend Zone”.
Drunk is an adventurous record that illustrates the undeniable talent of Thundercat, hinting at his potential to please both conventional and underground audience. Yet as he sings in “Friend Zone”, he’d “rather be playing Mortal Kombat anyway”.
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