Thundercat: Drunk album review – hear the bassist get wicked
Time to hear the bassist get wicked. Over the past few years, Stephen Bruner has began to accumulate quite a stack of accolades for himself. From providing agile bass lines for acts such as Suicidal Tendencies, Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke to working closely with visionaries such as Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, Bruner has become the dude you call when you want a rich veneer to your sound and someone who can switch things up in studio.
His own material has also began to develop additional shades and layers too. There’s plenty of rich, fertile roaming to be heard on his own releases such as Apocalypse and The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam as Bruner has begun to develop a voice.
That voice enters another dimension on Drunk, an album full of often playful and occasionally deadly serious moments where Bruner’s prowess as a composer and band leader are very much on show. Certainly, the latter trait can be seen in how Bruner marshals a starry guestlist – including Lamar, FlyLo, Pharrell, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Wiz Khalifa and Kamasi Washington – to maximum effect.
The presence of yacht rock kingpins McDonald and Loggins may indicate at first glance that Bruner is taking the current vogue for cheesy soft rock to new heights. Yet there’s considerable merit to how the supple and hugely earwormy Show You the Way works in relation of the rest of the Thundercat universe.
Changes shares a title with a Buddy Miller album and a sample from the Isley Brothers’ Footsteps In the Dark as its enticing R&B pounce and prowl builds and develops with added elevation from a slippery Washington sax line. The Turn Down has Pharrell showing he can do art-pop as well as pop-pop, while Friend Zone is a Valentine’s Day card for all the jilted would-be lovers pining for those who just want to be friends.
The only soundtrack you’ll need for the year of the ’Cat.