CD review: Recovery

Even Eminem seems to understand the law of diminishing returns when it comes to his records.

He’s spends quite a bit of time on his new disc, “Recovery,” doubling back to say how crappy his last record, “Relapse,” was, and he will get no argument from me.

The problem is, Em’s new record isn’t much better.

Look, I think we all know that there’s no way that Eminem can encapsulate the raw power and rage of “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Slim Shady LP” more than a decade later (and now that he’s no longer under the influence of his destructive prior lifestyle), but it continues to feel that he is running in place, content to provide some basic shock value, competent rhyming and little else.

If anything, “Recovery” can be labeled a success simply because Eminem abandons the psuedo-Arabic accent he fell in love with over the years, instead choosing to rhyme in his natural voice.

Otherwise, the record has some occasional flashes of the lyrical dexterity Em is known for, but is crippled by horrible beats and half-assed hooks. For whatever reason, he continues to rely on vaguely militaristic beats that wind up making all his songs sound the same – it’s like he fell in love with that Martika sample he used in “Toy Soldiers” and won’t give it up.

On top of the beat woes, his choruses are downright annoying: most of them consist of Em sing-songing a few words in the most corny way possible. Honestly, the best songs are the disc are the ones that use sampled choruses (“Going Through Changes,” “Love the Way You Lie” and new single “Won’t Back Down.”)

I even must admit to enjoying the Lil Wayne-assisted “No Love,” which I have seen criticized the most throughout reviews of this CD, for the way it mangles the Haddaway sample it uses. Again, because I’m so sick of hearing Eminem’s drum-beat-staccato backgrounds, something like this worked for me.

The subject matter is typical Eminem – jeremiads against his haters and critics, his struggles with addiction, the price of fame, et. al. He still seems stuck in the mid-90s with most of his punchlines, however, continuing to use dated references to Jessica Simpson, South Park, Michael J. Fox and other lazy lyrical crutches.

Dr. Dre’s production is largely absent, save for one track, as Em turns to Just Blaze and Boy 1-da for most of the songs. Still, they slavishly follow the template, bringing none of their sonic touches to the disc.

Pushing 40, apparently clean and sober, and freed from many of his demons, perhaps it’s time for Eminem to take a new approach. We can’t be shocked anymore, and his attempts at introspection are forced at best, so is Eminem really worth checking for anymore? I don’t want to give up on the guy, but he’s getting perilously close to becoming irrelevant in the rap game.


~ by Elliott on June 24, 2010.

One Response to “CD review: Recovery”


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