Tyler-the-Creator-IGOR

Courtesy of Columbia Records

May 31, 2019

TEST SPIN | Tyler, the Creator — ‘IGOR’

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Ranging from misunderstood beauty to cold horrors, Tyler, the Creator’s entire public persona fits the name of Igor. IGOR — an album entirely written, produced and composed by Tyler himself feels like the album that Tyler’s entire career has been leading towards.

Opening with “Igor’s Theme,” IGOR illustrates how it’s about to play out fairly enough. Concocted, plotted drum patterns rattle along while synths and gliding vocal melodies emphasize a light but vigorous mood. Percussion often sets the pace yet melodies from extended ranges dip into both light and dark throughout the album.

Remnants of “Glitter” appear on “EARFQUAKE,” emphasizing quivering vocals, high notes and escalating synths. Playboi Carti makes a guest appearance, fitting in with an eerie perfectness beside Tyler’s piano keys and singing.

“I THINK” is host to floaty vocals while grovely, nostalgic bars over a jingling, whistling and wavy beat while his floatier vocals provide chorus breaks.

Tracing the echoey speedway that is “RUNNING OUT OF TIME,” bright chimes accompany a tale that encompasses realizing that time is limited, especially in the context of love. Tyler uses a few tricks from his arsenal here, rapping traditionally and singing dreamy melodies.

“NEW MAGIC WAND” was teased during the week leading up to Igor’s release. It’s a warbly and unsettled pleading with a lover to appreciate Tyler’s love rather than leaving him because of “her”, whether the character represents hesitation regarding sexuality or being hung up on an actual previous relationship. The track is simultaneously angry, melancholic and endlessly energizing, from Tyler’s merciless bars here to the drawn-out, gentle hooks.

Tyler comes back around to the classics with “A BOY IS A GUN.” A chilled out, part old-school part Tyler-retro piano and synth tune allows for Tyler to peel out his bars seriously yet gracefully. All throughout the song, Tyler deals with the “loaded gun” potential of boys, like how love can be dangerous, how it can leave and how it can end.

“PUPPET” marks itself initially through a string of lovebird wishes and memories to a bittersweet guitar progression. Its beat at large, however, is remarkable and truly unforgettable. Bass, drums, and backing vocals ease into the song as it continues. Kanye West features for a mature and smooth verse, drawing on his Yeezus days in conjunction with some serious fresh air. Throughout the song, it only gets more settled into a comfortable groove until the siren-like ending and transition into “WHAT’S GOOD.”

“WHAT’S GOOD” breaks into the scene as a very Igor-like synth melody plays, almost as if it stands in as a stage direction. Bells sprinkled into the instrumental spark to life instantly and Tyler keeps his flow speedy to match the relentless hi-hats. Dracula mentions and a total instrumental crash drop both the music and the vocals to a heavier but steadier forefront for its close yet ceaseless onslaught.

A laid back summer jam follows in “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU.” And while the slick guitar strings and bubbly melodies are executed excellently, the lyricism isn’t incredibly captivating until the latter half of “GONE, GONE.” Quiet, humble pots and low guitar chords ring out as Tyler somberly raps retrospectively about the positives gleaned from a relationship that has crumbled. This persists up until the epic and electric outro “THANK YOU” which urges about reverberating, space age synth trails.

“ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” seals the album into “fall in-love to this album” territory, from the questions that it begs to the atmosphere that it carries. Here, Tyler gives plain and undistorted singing a try. This last song wraps up the thematic journey of the album and leaves Tyler questioning tirelessly yet heartfully whether or not he and his eternally memorialized lover will remain friends afterwards. The keys, guitar strings and Tyler himself emotively break at different points in the track for a cohesively ambitious and felt experience. It may be the most raw song of the album. But with such a grand slew of personal pieces, it’s difficult to not be blown away by the sheer audacity and variance provided by many of IGOR’s tracks.

I think your enjoyment of IGOR really depends on what you liked from Tyler, the Creator in the past. The album feels mot reminiscent of Cherry Bomb in its delivery with some Flower Boy style. Looking past the shock value of Goblin and Bastard, those two albums are beautiful at their core. Tyler has always said that Pharell is one of his biggest influences, and never has it been more clear than on IGOR.

Just about the only thing I find disappointing on this project are the drums. When the first snippet of “Igor’s Theme” was released, the most noticeable part of the track was a drum groove that was unlike anything Tyler had released before. It felt particularly frustrating because he advanced his sound so far forward in just about every other aspect, but his drums have sounded more or less the same since Wolf. Also, the features included were all great (yes, even the Kanye one, and especially the Playboi Carti one) but the artists who weren’t featured were disappointing. It felt like a given that we were going to see A$AP Rocky, Kali Uchis and Frank Ocean on this project, but maybe that’s exactly why they weren’t there in the first place.
Cory Koehler is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at ck594@cornell.edu.