2016 has been another big year for Alaska Thunderfuck. Alongside appearing on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars—and being crowned the winner!—she’s decided to come back for her second album in just over a year. Drawing inspiration from her time on All Stars 2, her career over the past year and relying on the help of some drag queen companions, Poundcake hits many similar notes to her first album Anus. It’s not quite as strong an album as her debut, but it’s full of the charm and humour we’ve come to expect from Alaska.
Unsurprisingly, humour is a major driving aspect of Poundcake, mixed in with some solid productions to make for hilarious yet musically enjoyable tracks. She utilises tropes all celebrities and drag queens face, such as the constant comments and questions asking them to perform in Brazil that forms the basis of Come to Brazil and fans using selfies with the queens to gain attention on social media on Race Chaser, and makes them into legitimately hilarious songs, especially with the return of Alaska’s talk singing in the former.
Her constant use of guest stars adds to the comedy factor, with Gia Gunn’s spouting of catchphrases on Stun and Jackie Beat’s bragging on I Invented That being some of the more successful guest features on the album and giving those songs most of their character, though paling in comparison to the scathing The T with Adore Delano and the hilarious yet stylish Let’s Do Drag with Lady Red Couture. Less successful is the Miss Fame feature on Chicken, utilising her trademark animal sounds in an abstract dance track that never goes anywhere and grates more than it entertains, and It Is What It Is, whose lyrics are a little too minimalist for its own good.
Despite the slew of collaborations, the strongest songs on offer here are still those that Alaska tackles by herself, Race Chaser included. Slaytina hearkens back to Ru Girl as she lists her fellow competitors and their defining features over a minimal house beat, while Puppet features a bratty energy that breaks the threateningly singular mood that all the house tracks around it create. The album’s strongest songs are found in its middle section, where Come to Brazil and its piano introduction lead into the similarly matching Diamond in the Rough and High, who feature different moods but similar sounds that work amazingly together. Packing most of the album’s punch into this four song segment works especially well as it relegates the collaborations to their own set spaces, giving Alaska a perfect amount of time to shine solo.
While there are a lot of nice things to say about Poundcake, it does find itself dragged down by its reliance on collaborators to find its humour. Without the likes of Gia on Stun or Jackie Beat on I Invented That, the songs would feel much flatter and lack the character that Anus had in droves. However, the sheer production is what keeps the album enjoyable, and Alaska’s solo moments retain that spark that drove her first album to such great heights. Poundcake definitely falls shorter in a few places, but makes up for it with the help of its stronger songs.