The music of Tyler The Creator (real name: Tyler Okonma) is the music of a prankster engaged in a distinctly flippant form of rebellion. It’s anarchic stuff, but it never becomes overly serious or considered; the man’s releases have always been marked out by how essentially enjoyable they are. Cherry Bomb, his fourth studio album, is no different. It’s a romp of a record, and, perversely, even its sloppiness manages to add to its appeal.
Curiously, even though the album features tracks as bizarre as the minute long Run, Cherry Bomb might be Okonma’s most sincere release yet. Sure, the work is as mad as a sack of frogs, but one never gets the sense that it was constructed with a tongue-in-cheek, ironic remove. The staunch oddness of the brilliant, anthemic Buffalo never feels artificial. This is music crafted with care, even if its sole purpose is to appear careless.
Sometimes things threaten to topple over into complete anarchy; album closer Keep Da O’s is so overstuffed that it’s impossible to fully appreciate on first listen. But as messy as it is, it may well be one of Okonma’s strongest tracks yet. The endlessly inventive rapper tries on a variety of different genres at a speed that is breath-taking, all in the space of a lean four minutes. It’s the most bizarre song of the year to date, but it’s also one of the most remarkable.
The record is notably light on guest spots; indeed, the central chunk of the album comes from Okonma and Okonma alone. The creative control he has exerted over Cherry Bomb makes it feel almost auteur-ish; tracks like Blow My Load and the insane, lush Find Your Wings feel distinctly personal, in a way that is at once demented and yet intimate.
The string arrangements on typically atypical 2Seater take the track to an added level – it’s one of the record’s many highlights. Titular track Cherry Bomb is another delight, and showcases Okonma’s most distinctive vocal performance. It’s a lean, mean little number that bursts with confrontation and intensity.
Cherry Bomb is a defiantly demented release. It’s a hoarse howl of a record; a collection of playfully vicious and viciously painful tracks. There’s not a single dull moment in its forty eight minutes, and on that level, as on so many others, it should be applauded.