Slowthai explores new genre with ‘Ugly’ album

Jack Rhoden, Contributing Writer

 Slowthai’s new album “Ugly” was first teased on Jan. 25 with the drop of a single titled “Selfish,” which demonstrated the album’s artistic direction and Slowthai’s career switch up. The album was released on March 3. 

Slowthai has released two full LPs and three EPs before this work. While those two albums took the form of melodic hip-hop, “Ugly” is a true blooded post-punk album with hip-hop influence running deep throughout. 

This album follows the trend of rappers releasing out-of-left-field genre albums, such as Lil Yachty’s escapade into psych rock, fused with his autotune heavy lane of hip-hop. The run time for Slowthai’s album is 38 minutes and 39 seconds, with 12 tracks, including one interlude. 

The opener, “Yum,” is an excellent post-punk track held back by one problem. That problem is the end, which has a sped up version of Slowthai talking about inhaling and exhaling while he breathes normally until he gets mad and war cries. The inhale-exhale is a distraction that takes away from his rising rage.

“Yum” should not be the album’s opener. Lyrically, it is similar to the rest of the album. Sonically, it is one of the deepest tracks on the album. It should have been placed in a dry spell on the track list. 

“Never Again” is an excellent track. It’s a downbeat delivery mixed with vocal effects dipping in and out of the mix over a post-punk instrumental that disintegrates down to one bass guitar, exemplifying the soul crushing lyrics. Unfortunately, the next track has the opposite, where bad lyrics are exemplified. 

The interlude, a one-minute track titled “F**k It Puppet,” suffers from the problem of having Slowthai play two characters. This is a consistent problem across the entire album, with this track being the worst offender. 

I have heard this style for an interlude before, but the main problem is the only voice in “F**k It Puppet” is Slowthai. Everyone who has succeeded with the style has had at least two actors talking. 

The worst part is the track covers a serious, important subject to Slowthai, discussing how people offer you narcotics at the lowest points in your life. The dealer is portrayed by Slowthai in a higher pitched voice with a cartoon tone, in comparison to the main character who sounds like a disappointed dad. 

After the interlude, the album struggles to recover in the strength of its tracks. There are morsels of good ideas, and one standout track with an instrumental growing in abrasiveness in an attempt to demonstrate Slowthai’s despair at simple questions and simple feelings. 

The second to last track has one of my least favorite tropes in albums. “Tourniquet” is overshadowed by “25% Club,” making me question why it was included on the tracklist. The aggressive lyrics over stereotypical sad instrumentation play with repetition such as in “Break my bones,” and it just disappoints. 

The last track, “25% Club,” is probably the most despairing song on the album and stands out because of it. The somber guitar and synthesizer maintain the post-punk attitude that is consistent across the album.

 Nearly every track on this album shows Slowthai’s potential if he continues down this lane of music. With a few better collaborators and a bit of track trimming, this would be excellent. As a first outing in a complex genre, this remains a solid seven out of 10 album.