By Ioan Lee
Ioan Rating: 9.6/10
IGOR is Tyler, The Creator’s fifth studio album, and comes at a time where the California based artist is at his most popular – the success of his previous record “Flower Boy” propelled him into multiple end of year lists and increased his already apparent popularity internationally.
So, what does Tyler release when all eyes are on him to follow up a critically acclaimed album? A near perfect masterpiece that illustrates the powerful feeling of heartbreak gorgeously. There is a clear narrative to the album; it follows a love triangle that results in heartbreak for Tyler, as his boyfriend is seemingly stolen from him by another girl. This narrative is perhaps a continuation of “Flower Boy”, which explored themes of loneliness and sexuality, but his older work also contains element of this narrative, as albums like “Wolf” contains songs about love and isolation. It is very different sonically, but these themes have been evident in Tyler’s work from his first album.
From the get-go, IGOR confronts the listener with a monolithic wall of synthesizer, that evolves into an eccentric beat which instantly draws the listener in, on the opening track “IGOR’S THEME”. This use of synth as a vehicle for portraying emotion is a motif that is apparent throughout the album; all of the songs feature warm, excellently performed synthesizers that brilliantly portray emotion and add to the lovestruck feel of the album. Sonically, this album is just beautiful; expect luscious layers of vocal harmonies and instrumentation that will make you feel as though you have been transported to a dimension of pure musical beauty, with guest vocals from Solange, Santigold, Jessy Wilson, La Roux, CeeLo Green among others that compliment the gorgeous and stunning instrumentation, arpeggios and chord changes. For example, the track “A BOY IS A GUN” features a refrain of the title of the song that not only empowers gay men but sounds incredible, and the song “PUPPET” features one of the most powerful key changes I have had the pleasure of experiencing. I recommend this album to anyone who appreciates music as it is not only a delight to listen to but has great lyrics; the penultimate song “GONE GONE/ THANK YOU” features excellent use of metaphor in a verse that is possibly Tyler’s best to date, and also features powerful harmonies and heartfelt, vulnerable vocal deliveries, with catchy instrumentation and brilliant production.
Another thing: this album is catchy as hell. Expect to have certain lines replayed in your head for days or weeks, making you return to this album to fully appreciate those sounds that your mind can’t quite replicate. The structure of this album is another aspect that makes it great: the album plays front to back very smoothly, and every song seamlessly transitions into the next, making this album feel more like an experience than a record. The pacing of the album is great, as every so often an energetic song such as “NEW MAGIC WAND”, an adrenaline fueled banger, will keep the album flowing and ensures that the slower ballads do not make the album feel cumbersome, and the 39:47 run time will fly by due to this.
Overall, this album is fantastic. It is innovative in both its mixing and production, has a great structure and features some the best instrumentation and vocal performances in Tyler, The Creator’s discography. From the optimistic, lovestruck start of the album to the brokenhearted scream that brings the album to a close, this album constantly delivers solid songwriting, beautiful harmonies and emotionally charged performances. The aesthetic that Tyler creates throughout the album is precise, and the character of the album is well developed and thought out. However, it is not perfect and there are a few minor flaws with the album; I think Tyler’s singing sometimes falls short but this is sometimes intentional as it creates a feeling of awkwardness and vulnerability that is in line with the emotional lyrics and themes. I also think that the album could’ve had a better ending, but this should not put you off: IGOR is Tyler, The Creator’s most ambitious project, and all the risks taken pay off massively, resulting in one of the best breakup albums you will ever listen to.
IGOR is available on Apple Music and Spotify.