2016, Music

Malibu (2016) by Anderson .Paak

I had literally never heard of Anderson .Paak when he was recommended to me by my cousin. I had no idea what I was in for and basically zero context, as far as I knew.

However, I’ve listened to a fair amount of ’90s neo soul so I’m quite familiar with the tradition .Paak is (mostly) operating in. And that makes it so much easier to appreciate what he does than the work of a lot of his contemporaries.

.Paak and his co-writers have created a pretty strong set of material that really doesn’t run out of steam despite the length of the album (just over an hour). There’s nothing so insanely catchy that I find myself remembering it days later but the melodies are strong enough, and consistently good enough, that you don’t get bored.

I don’t really have much to say about his lyrics. For me it’s often a complement to a singer when I don’t notice their lyrics. And it’s soul. Soul was never really about lyrics, for the most part, until neo soul. Obviously there’s much more of a singer-songwriter bent since then, and .Paak certainly sounds like he has his own distinct lyrical voice, but I can’t say I spent a lot of time paying attention to the content. Again, I don’t mean that disparaginly.

.Paak has a very distinct voice, and I think that really helps him standout. He’s one of those singers who can sing but sound like they can’t and who sound like no-one else. It helps cement his aesthetic.

To me the real virtue of the record is how diverse it is. .Paak pulls in all sorts of stuff and there’s relative stylistic diversity throughout, sometimes even from track to track. And there are some unconventional touches on certain songs, like surprise endings and the like.

Pretty damn impressive and it’s clear to me he’s quite a talent. The only thing keeping me from giving it higher marks is how much I feel like this record echoes the neo-soul prime.


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