Much like himself, Tyler the Creator’s fourth album Cherry Bomb is a complex being. At times, it is intricately layered with serene production and backing vocals. However, it can also be a distorted, messy affair that lacks structure, or the finesse that we have come to expect from him. He has never been one to make music for anyone but himself and this seems to be the main motivation behind Cherry Bomb, an album that he can listen to. The main problem is that while he is an incredibly gifted musician and producer, not everyone has the same ears as he does.
After a barrage of subpar, bass heavy tracks (‘Buffalo’,’ Pilot’), ‘Find Your Wings’ welcomes a different side of Tyler, one we have briefly glimpsed before but never properly met. The smooth jazz horns, piano and chord patterns fully represent him at his best in terms of production. Very few musicians have such an ability to induce euphoria, but it is a quality that he has down at a t (no pun intended). Even the choice of backing vocalists is exceptionally varied. The odd combination of Toro Y Moi and Charlie Wilson expand the sound of ‘Fucking Young/Perfect’ with beautiful delivery behind Tyler, as he voices his desires for a younger woman. Sure there is the odd jarring note and the subject matter is questionable, but it is a Tyler the Creator song after all.
The temporary lull in tempo and aggression that is ‘Find Your Wings’ is directly counteracted by the vicious title track. It is one of a few songs that are intentionally muffled or over distorted. He may be the type of artist to have a reason for everything but there are more than a few moments where you find yourself questioning the methods to his madness. Album closer ‘Okaga C.A’ builds itself on off key melodies and vocals and never feels like it fully realises any of its potential, which is somewhat scarce to begin with.
The most prominent guest spots come in the form of Kanye West and Lil Wayne on ‘Smuckers’. Tyler is perhaps the only person who could not only unite these two on one track, but to also get the best out of them while doing so. On paper, it could have been a mismatch, but he knows what he wants from featured artists. It is not additional attention or to beef up the track list or expectations and sales in the process. It is to further the song in the direction he feels it going. A quality that is all but lost in music these days.
It is hard to deny that Cherry Bomb as a whole is very scattered. He may wish to replicate the music that he listens to, but who says that NERD, Death Grips and Stevie Wonder make for a particularly good combination. Well Tyler, does and sometimes it makes for a completely immersive and captivating track. Other songs are forgettable due their chaotic harshness and bad mixing. Cherry Bomb will most certainly serve as a tool to keep people guessing as to what we will hear next from him, if nothing else.