Best known as Wretch 32, Jermaine Scott Sinclaire is back with his fourth studio album FR32. 2017 has been a big year for albums from MCs, with Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayer hitting number one in the UK charts this year. But how does this stand up alongside such heavy hitters?
In truth, not so well. Whilst Gang Signs and Prayer received critical praise for it’s masterful lyricism, FR32 is left much less memorable. Time, one of only four tracks not featuring a collaboration, feels like a track thrown together with a vocal track not fitting the piano backing. It’s not that songs always have to be cohesive, but this track isn’t enjoyable to play. Power with J Warner is a strong, cohesive track in comparison. The lyrics contain much more depth and show what he’s capable of as an lyricist.
Whilst this all may represent some personal artistic growth, it does feel a little hastily put together, especially when considering Wretch’s last album was released only last year. Full of collaboration, FR32 is a diverse effort, but still not cohesive. Within 12 tracks there are some enjoyable bangers, but as a whole, it’s far from album of the year. His and Her’s (perspective) is probably the strongest lyrically, it’s a blunt track dealing with conflict and issues in a relationship, something that every listener can find some relation to.
One of the most popular tracks has proved to be Tell Me featuring Kojo Funds and Jahlani, and it’s not hard to see why. The collaborators are on form, as is the melodic blend of vocals and tropical house backing beats. Fresher than the rest of the album, it’s a shame that the stand out track is one of the leads.
Possibly a rushed album, after all Wretch 32’s last album was only released in 2016, FR32 is okay overall. It’s worth a listen, and within it’s 12 very diverse tracks there are some gems, but not too much to bring you back for repeat listening. The collaborations can be strong, but so many chefs in one kitchen leave this full length album seemingly a collection of various singles. It might not earn album of the year, but there’s something to please everyone in here.