California native and bass player, producer and singer Thundercat latest output “Drunk,” his follow up to his 2015 EP “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam,” was released on Brainfeeder in late February. This is the artist’s third attempt at an LP, the two previous LPs were met with critical acclaim. His EP Thundercat is known for his smooth jazz stylings with some electronic elements thrown in.
On “Drunk,” Thundercat, or Stephen Bruner, continues his streak of virtuosic songs with an undeniable hint of Thundercat’s personality and humor with playful music. One thing that isn’t funny is the skill that Thundercat has to bring these funky bass and synth-heavy songs to fruition.
Through the album, like on songs like “Them Changes” and “Show You the Way,” Thundercat puts down some impressive finger twisting bass lines, all riding on an almost robotic drum beat. His vocal style is great. It is airy and a little raspy, but still very soft.
One way that Thundercat’s personality is shown in these songs, besides the instrumentation being jazzy, is that none of them boast song lengths longer than five minutes and most being shorter than three, which is very uncommon for music of this caliber. This works well for Thundercat, because his lyrical content seems almost completely stream of consciousness, talking about isolated incidents or just thinking out loud for a couple minutes, like his trip to Japan in “Tokyo” or being high with the Wiz Khalifa featured song, “Drink Dat.” The song, which comes across bad, is humorous just in its existence when considered more.
Thundercat has a feature from wordsmith Kendrick Lamar on “Walk on By,” and Lamar has no problem dropping a great verse over Thundercats framework, possibly because Thundercat worked with Lamar on his 2015 critically acclaimed album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
He also has a song with surprising (but not really) features from Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins on the smooth and sensual “Show You the Way,” which could easily sit next to the hits of the late 70s funk and R&B scenes.
Thundercat’s musicality shortened in this way makes this a pleasurable listening experience. Listening to this album is like listening to jazz with somebody skipping to all the good parts. In that way it could be appreciated by people who don’t usually listen to jazz, but because of the intricacy of the songs, jazz lovers could easily enjoy this album. When push comes to shove, Thundercat is classically trained musician, so he just decides to have fun with these talents.
Verdict: After a couple listens of this LP, Thundercats vision is pretty easily realized. This is a guy who has incredible chops and could make any type of music that he wanted to. However, he decided that he is going to continue to make smooth, ethereal R&B and funk cuts with jazz stylings that are tough to forget. Some songs have goofy lyrics and some are a little more serious, and some have Michael McDonald and Wiz Khalifa on the same LP.
Songs to listen to: “Show You the Way,” “Captain Stupido,” “Tokyo” and “Walk on By”