Here are our thoughts on the latest album from Slowthai.
Date published: 3rd Mar 2023
Slowthai is one of the most recognisable UK rappers around at the moment but he hasn't had the easiest ride over the past few years. His second album 'Tyron' had a mixed reception and did not reach the heights of his debut. Now, he has released 'Ugly' (U Gotta Love Yourself) which sees him rediscover that initial magic and more.
We thought we'd take a look on a track-by-track basis...
"I've been lacking motivation, I need an intervention", is one of the first statements from Slowthai on this album as it sees him trying to regain his sense of creativity. He openly discusses conversations with his therapist, in a similar way to what Dave did on his album 'Psychodrama'. This track is a static mess, suitably getting more distorted as he descends into more unhealthy and chaotic behaviour. The beat drop hits you with a laser gun.
Immediately we're into a beat that feels like you're running away from something. In a world that feels chaotic, Slowthai is keen to focus on himself. When called selfish, all he is doing is looking after himself, away from the perception that others see him in.
It feels almost like a doo-wop song before dripping into a much more recognisable rhythm. This feels like the type of album that will you reward you listen upon listen with all the clever lyrics that are dropped at such a pace. "I'm trusting no one but me" he maintains. This song almost feels like it could be an indie rock tune from the '00s.
Easily one of the happiest singles of the year so far, try and watch the music video without having a smile on your face. It's a much-needed signifier of better things happening for Slowthai. A short burst of joy that lights this album up, it is a very strong record to date.
A much slower pace kicks off this one, dominated by slow percussion and piano keys, it kicks up once Slowthai's verse starts. Still hitting more of a sombre tone, it sees him reflecting and regretting his actions in a previous relationship. Following this story is an absolutely crushing blow.
Fuck It Puppet
A shirt burst out, this is an all-out assault from the moment go. Each line is cutting and you can almost feel the spit from Slowthai's mouth as he goes back and forth with a girl. We've landed uncomfortably in the middle of a disagreement that finishes as quickly as it started.
The delivery of Slowthai's lyrics is absolutely delightful here, the way he sings means that you're following him the whole way through. Here, he is keen to emphasise that feelings aren't weakness, if you need to cry then cry, there's no shame in that. The guitar riff that wails in the background feels like it summoned a storm.
"Said that you love me but you make me feel ugly". This ultimately feels like a representation of the working class, where you're struggling on the daily and not only do you have to deal with economic pressure but social discrimination too. He finishes the song with 'The most beautiful people do the ugliest things". It's a brilliant bit of songwriting.
There's been a ferocity to this album punctuated by the guitar, which has only helped to elevate Slowthai's songs. Here we join him on a journey of falling, suspended in space as the world rushes by alongside us. We hear his voice get more and more maddening as the track goes on and he drifts further away.
The bassline intensity is absolutely gorgeous here. It feels that Slowthai has harnassed the intensity that made his earlier tracks such as 'Doorman' and 'Deal Wiv It' so interesting. This album is full of fierce scratchy tones, unrelenting percussion and weird electronic distortions. In each song, you find yourself just chanting along with him.
Dan Carey produced this album and it feels as though he helped to make Slowthai's intensity shine through in the right way. If any song felt like a man combusting in front of your eyes then it would be this one.
On this track we get a light acoustic melody surrounded by echoes and whispers as we hear about a relationship that feels symbiotic, able to give to each other fully. It is a surprisingly tender moment to close the album on, but one that showcases so much growth for Slowthai.
Overall, this is a welcome return to form for Slowthai where he is not only back to his best but has far surpassed his own standard that he set. It feels as though 'Ugly' is an album of great maturity, where it feels as though some soul searching has led him to realise who he wants to be as a person and artist. There's so much energy packed into this album that there's never a dull moment and you'll be coming back for listen after listen.
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