Saturday, January 13, 2018

Malibu (2016)

Approximately the fourth album by Anderson .Paak (also known as Breezy Lovejoy, which does nothing to explain the dot in his present stage name), Malibu won a small host of honorifics last year: a ranking appearance in the annual Pazz & Jop poll of critics (#11), a nomination for a Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?), and repository of four singles ("The Season/Carry Me," "Am I Wrong," "Room in Here," and "Come Down"). None of them charted, but the sleek uptempo "Come Down" is what drew me here in the first place. .Paak has a well-worn voice that sounds comfortably stretched thin with exhaustion, and a rolling huffing way of building up to irresistible pop speed. It never gets much better than "Come Down," but "Come Down" was good enough to carry interest in the whole thing for a while. As so often for me these days, the skits, found sound, and other chatter that can clutter the spaces between tracks throws the momentum off. They are rarely that clever, usually stinking of inside jokes. I love "Come Down" but I'm sick to death of the eight seconds at the end given over to some educational film narrator sounding square ("before Vietnam, when boys were long and hair was short, the center of the surfing world was a place called Malibu"). But .Paak's album is otherwise supremely generous, clocking in at over an hour with 16 full-length tracks and plenty of good ones. The skits in this case are attached to the tracks rather than standing on their own, a certain concession to shuffle and/or streaming format, I'm sure, though irritating in its own way. In a couple of cases they seem intended to connect songs, which of course fails on shuffle. Who listens to albums these days in the given track sequence? I do, for these reviews (you're welcome), but otherwise I don't much. I've been on majority shuffle play for some time now, and I suspect many others are too. Malibu has some swell songs—I count all four singles at least good, plus the sexxee Marvin Gaye parody "Water Fall (Interluuube)," and also "Your Prime," "Celebrate" (which feels like a Sly Stone song, maybe a little too much), and "The Dreamer." I'm sure I'm going on about the skits too much, and Anderson .Paak just happens to be my convenient venting place. But the only hope to make sense of them is by listening to this album in sequence, and it's just not strong enough as a whole to bear the scrutiny. Put the eight songs I've named into a playlist, or listen to the album a few times and pick out your own favorites. Some of them you'll want to return to again and again. The album itself, maybe not so much.

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