Album Review: Slowthai - TYRON

Music editor Joe Smith reviews Slowthai's turbulent second album

Joe Smith
11th February 2021
After his debut album Nothing Great About Britain dropped in 2019, Slowthai had the world eating out of his hand. He had it all: bravissimo, humour and fragility. However, after a controversial appearance at the 2020 NME awards, his career was hanging on by a thread. On TYRON, Slowthai appears to take a retrospective new leaf, but still manages to maintain that tongue in cheek persona that made him such a hit. Presented in two halves, alien to each other, TYRON is a tantalizing journey through the chaos of the past year, from the perspective of someone who nearly fell from the very top.

On ‘CANCELLED’ Slowthai enlists some help from Skepta on a track that's a not-so-subtle reference to the 2020 NME awards. The main base of the song is that you can’t be “cancelled” if you’re as famous as these two and have won a few awards. This song was Slowthai’s chance to apologise again and acknowledge his mistakes during the NME awards, instead it’s a self indulgent number that completely and disappointingly misses the mark. However, throughout the rest of the album, Slowthai tackles his regrets head on in a less cocky, uniquely mature way. 

The first half of the album is Slowthai at his most discernible. Mettlesome, sample-ridden grime beats fuse effortlessly with more experimental elements rife with bite and aggression. ‘VEX’ is introduced by a superb reverb-ridden mantra that explodes into a flurry of potent lyrics, as sharp as they are violent. Slowthai oozes swagger on this track, electing for a lyrical flow more familiar to his fans, whilst also providing a more ominous side to him. ‘DEAD’ again opts for the versatility of a more traditional grime beat and features Slowthai delving into himself, his faults and his flaws, “No nicotine Ty is a monster”. This insecure ruggedness perhaps sums up Slowthai’s performance on the first half of this record. All his insecurities have been squashed together, with their only release being the chaotic combustion of TYRON’s first half. He’s held his insecurities in for too long and by the end of this half, they've transformed from a bundle of disordered energy into a strain of more mature thoughts, ready to escape through the sound of the second half.

Part two takes a much more dulcet approach than its predecessor. Heavy beats become more lucid, and lyrics swap their aggression for introspection; this side is also more feature heavy, with well-received additions from Deb Never, James Blake, Denzel Curry, Dominic Fike and Mount Kimbie. 

‘i tried’ takes a Tyler the Creator IGOR-esque beat laden with bluesy guitars and internal anxieties. ‘Terms’ features Denzel Curry and Dominic Fike and is an incredibly balanced track. Each artist reflects each other's talents’ and rhythms perfectly. Fike’s chorus is removed from the track's skittish energy and Curry’s muffled intersections provide an additional layer of experimentalism. It’s a far-ield track for Slowthai, but one that has paid off. 

The album closer ‘adhd’ is a reflective end to the record. With a ponderous and melancholic beat, Slowthai ends the record in an uncharacteristically mellow manner, until the brief interruption of a heartfelt phone call which, upon finishing, the track detonates and Slowthai closes the album angrily and integrally.

TYRON is an album that could’ve wallowed in self-pity but doesn’t. Instead, with one exception, TYRON is an intelligent, telling and experimental record where Slowthai doesn’t find himself as such, but rather explores himself. On TYRON, Slowthai stays at the top.

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