This album is delightfully cohesive. Jazz fusion bassist Thundercat’s third studio album loosely focuses on the effects intoxication has on everyday experiences. Drunk is packed with refreshing humor that guides the narrative along a 23-track, long-ass-night type of journey. The album’s opener “Rabbot Ho” sets the stage for Thundercat’s Alex-in-Wonderland (if you will) escapades that truly kick off in the subsequent track “Captain Stupido”. The funky basslines match his vocals note-for-note as he describes the incomplete feeling one gets when they realize they left their wallet at the club: “I feel weird/Comb your beard, brush your teeth/I feel weird/Beat your meat, go to sleep”. The punchlines on this project are timely and knee-slapping fun. Thundercat (born Stephen Bruner) simply uses his life-long obsessions and observations to create a lighthearted and fluent release that is both relatable and charmingly odd.
But it’s not all just kicks and giggles. There may not be many stern moments on this record, however some tracks emit a breezy or wavy sound that transports the listener to a time when things weren’t so bad — much like the high alcohol can induce. Album standouts “Show You the Way” and “Friend Zone” fulfill different thematic duties but each anchor the all-but-concise track listing. Featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, “Show You the Way” is a smooth, adult-ready groove that hooked me instantly. All three performers add something unique to the track without overlapping or outdoing one another. Their vocal performances coincide with the buttery production and complement one another beautifully. “Friend Zone” on the other hand is a solo effort that defines how a fantastic contemporary relationship jam should sound. Its spacey synths, colorful bass, and opportune cymbal crashes embolden Thundercat’s honest stance on being classified with the dreaded friend zone label. Throughout this album he breathes personality into common instances and serves them with a whimsical cherry on top.
Drunk is not without holes, though. Across the duration of this album, Thundercat’s vocal tone remains virtually the same. I compare his voice to that of some kind of decades-old commercial jingle. He exhibits similar cadences in many of these songs, making the shorter tracks highly forgettable. Also, there didn’t need to be so many in-and-out tracks. Nine of the 23 are less than two minutes in length, most of those adding little to the overall body of the project. He stuffed over 20 tracks into 51 minutes’ time which makes for a somewhat clunky final product. Luckily for us, he (along with the other four primary producers such as Flying Lotus and Sounwave) brought high-quality mixing to make Drunk an incredibly easy listen all the way through. The guests other than the ones previously mentioned could have been more compelling in my opinion: such as Kendrick Lamar’s recycled flow from the semi-Sounwave-produced “These Walls” from his To Pimp a Butterfly masterpiece or Pharrell’s backseat vocal performance on “The Turn Down”. What’s more important, though, is that none of the features brought any of the songs down, they just could have been a bit better. All in all, if you like having a good time, watching popular anime, or listening to funk with a modern twist surely give this album a healthy dose of listens.