'IGOR': Tyler, The Creator's Most Memorable Musical Monster Yet
Tyler, the Creator released his sixth studio album IGOR last week and he’s given us all a lot to talk about. Following Tyler’s request that audiences listen to the full piece all the way through with no preconceived notions or expectations, it felt imperative to do just that.
Starting with the introductory track “IGOR’s Theme,” Tyler brings us into an experience filled with unique musicality that while baring slight resemblance to the work of his mentor (Pharrell) truly provides listeners with a refreshing and original sound. The album goes on to pair this sound with lyrics that convey more common themes of love and attempting to capture and keep it successfully.
Big names are scattered across the album but the voices of Kanye West, Playboi Carti, A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, CeeLo Green, Solange, and many more all seem to further cement the notion that love is universal. Many of the features are less recognizable than you’d expect, slipped into the crevices of Tyler’s verses, saying only a few lines in a warped version of their voices.
“I Think,” the third track on the album, is an upbeat moment of clarity featuring Solange. It shows Tyler realizing he’s falling in love and that this time he, “thinks it’s for real.” While it still holds the surreal summer-feel established by the first two tracks, it will also make you wiggle out of your seat a bit.
Another notable mention goes to the song, “Running Out of Time,” featuring Jessy Wilson. The windows had to be rolled all the way down for it and Tyler leaves no choice but to look out pensively and mourn the loss of unrequited love. “I been runnin' out of spells, to make you love me” and other similar lines about futile romantic efforts are repeated over a circular synth sound and a softly played keyboard.
The dream-like mood of many of the tracks is undercut by the darkness of songs like, “New Magic Wand.” This track seems to crash us back down to earth after the “head in the clouds” feeling caused by the first half of the album. It shows a possessive element to the romance the album seems to be centered on.
“What’s Good,” also stands out as the only song not heavily involving romantic love. Similar to “New Magic Wand” in its darkness, Tyler talks of his own indestructibility while acknowledging the obstacles that surround him. The song is followed by “Gone, Gone/Thank You” wherein Tyler reverts back to themes of love again sounding almost cheerful but remaining honest with additions from Jerrod Carmichael and CeeLo Green. The song initiates a conclusion with the claim “I hate wasted potential, that shit crushes your spirit, it really does, it crushes your soul.”
“It’s about love. Like everything else.” Tyler fan, Melanie Diaz, 23, summarizes IGOR in two short sentences.
Upon further analysis it’s easy to reach that same conclusion, the album is a testament to the intricacies of unrequited love. While it seems to be a far cry from previous themes and styles in Tyler’s work, the relatability of the lyrical themes amplify the nuances of the production and arrangements.
Going one song at a time, you can follow the progression and development of love. There’s the desperate want for reciprocation in “Running Out Of Time,” and “Earfquake,” the incessant need for validation in “New Magic Wand” and “Puppet," the acceptance of love lost in “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” and the begging-the-question of what comes next in “Are We Still Friends?” Despite short breaks in the album where Tyler reminds us of the dark reality of the world and his interpretation of it, his commitment to the telling of a love story shows his growth and expansion as an artist and individual. Even in the darkest and most complex minds, there’s always love.
Lead Image Credit: Tyler, The Creator