Brent Faiyaz - Wasteland Music Album Reviews

Brent Faiyaz - Wasteland Music Album Reviews
The singer’s latest album is both overbearing and underbaked, smothering lovely vocals and intriguing ideas underneath blockbuster features and irritating interludes.

In 2020, Brent Faiyaz ushered in his 25th birthday with “Dead Man Walking,” a single that distilled a fledgling philosophy for the next quarter of his life: “Do what you wanna, live how you wanna, spend what you wanna, be who you wanna be.” Slushy harmonies and sleek orchestral production added to the drama, but it was Faiyaz’s images that made the song stick. A window slices open, and smoke streams out of the car; diamonds “doing Toosie Slides in both ears” glimmer as he coasts down the Vegas strip. Drake, whom Faiyaz takes such pains to reference in this track and the rest of his catalog, perfected this kind of pitched-down plunge into nihilism, adrenaline as the only end game. But amid this impending sense of doom, Faiyaz charmed with an ethereal voice and compelling sense of ease.

“Dead Man Walking” went viral across TikTok, and remains one of the most graceful songs of the Maryland R&B singer’s career. The single seemed to offer a more elegant, elevated posture for the guy who branded himself a “walking erection” on “Fuck the World,” the title track of his previous project. But Wasteland, his latest full-length, shows that he’s learned the wrong lessons from his viral success. On the new album, he opts for grandeur over granularity, resulting in an expensive, ambitious collection that relies on gimmicks and conceit. Instead of trusting Faiyaz to carry his own momentum, Wasteland is both overbearing and underbaked, smothering strands of lovely vocals and wisps of ideas underneath blockbuster features and irritating interludes.

Faiyaz has said that he binge-watched Tarantino movies while making the album, and Wasteland is cinematic in the most clunkily literal sense. Three of the record’s 19 tracks are skits, and that tally doesn’t include the introduction—a swirl of menacing piano chords, crowd chatter, and fragmented intonations spoken by Faiyaz and Jorja Smith about tunneling into a high to escape and, gratingly, how Twitter has co-opted the word “toxic.” (“Shakespeare used it,” Smith chimes in, “The Taming of the Shrew.”) The two-and-half-minute-long ramble culminates in an intriguing, if not obvious question: “What purpose do your vices serve in your life?” 

But Faiyaz spends the next hour dodging the answer. Instead, we get a plot. Wasteland follows Faiyaz’s character as he deflects the looming responsibilities of fatherhood, lying to the pregnant mother of his future child until she is so distraught that she threatens suicide. In a painfully drawn-out scene, “Skit: Wake Up Call,” Faiyaz crashes his car speeding to see her. Between these awkwardly scripted data-dumps, we get some gleaming songs—the catchy, Tyler, the Creator-assisted “Gravity,” the tingling percussion on “Addictions”, the hazy thrill of “Dead Man Walking”—but Faiyaz shoves the listener back into the overwrought narrative before any of the hits can metabolize.

Thankfully, the execution often surpasses the ideas—these are intricate tracks, twinkling through layers of texture. But they get clogged in swerves and side-steps. “Price of Fame” undulates through pitched-down vocals slowed to a sludge and frantic beat changes, meandering without any real center; “Ghetto Gatsby” slinks through an unnecessary Alicia Keys rap to let Faiyaz belt out in his stainless falsetto. Faiyaz is at his best when he leans into disorientation, dissecting and conveying it: “Maybe my sense of reality is turned off,” he croons on “Loose Change.” The most effective songs fade and float into vapor: “All Mine” unspools gauzy strands of harmonies, while on “Wasting Time,” Faiyaz lobs some passive-aggressive pleas —“You can have all the space/More than you need”—over a lilting Neptunes beat before Drake shows up to moan about The Queen’s Gambit and flushing condoms down the toilet.

Drake is the obvious touchpoint for all this, both blueprint and benefactor. But like the Weeknd, another clear influence, Drake grounds his aching melodrama in tangible grit, sculpting scenes out of specifics. Aside from “Dead Man Walking,” Faiyaz mainly opts for sweeping statements about how evil he is, a rigid moral clarity that sometimes comes across as laziness. He labels himself a “villain,” an “egomaniac,” a gaslighter, a nemesis who deserves his tragic end. Any concrete details he offers just further fuel the caricature. He tries to convince a possessive lover to have more threesomes; he lashes out at a woman spilling cognac on his Alexander McQueens; he leaves sex stains in the back of an Uber.

When he does briefly prod at self-examination, his revelations underwhelm: “Maybe I don’t need a hug/Maybe I’m just fucked up,” he hums on “Addictions.” On “Rolling Stone,” he wails what we’re meant to think is the thesis of the album: “I’m rich as fuck and I ain’t nothing at the same time.” It’s a vacant confession, offering only an outline of vulnerability. Sometimes, even emptiness has to be earned.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Brent Faiyaz - Wasteland Music Album Reviews Brent Faiyaz - Wasteland Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, July 21, 2022 Rating: 5

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