Cherry Bomb marks the return of the enigmatic talent that is Tyler, The Creator, as he follows up his well-received 2013 album, Wolf. The past five years have been a whirlwind for Tyler since his explosion into popularity in 2011, mostly due to the outrageous video for his single, ‘Yonkers’, from his major label debut, ‘Goblin’ (2011). Despite his first independent release (‘Barstard’) coming two years prior, it wasn’t until this point that he started to receive worldwide attention. Fast forward four years and three albums later and it is interesting to see where Tyler is in terms of his artistic development.
Cherry Bomb starts at a frantic pace, reminding us of the mayhem and chaos that has often been associated with Tyler. A few of the tracks that make up the opening half (‘Pilot’, ‘Run’ & ‘Cherry Bomb’) mirror a side of Tyler that some people may have expected/wanted him to leave behind as he matured, but it’s evident the Odd Future frontman considers this an essential element to his music. ‘Deathcamp’ sounds like it could have been a part of an early N*E*R*D album, but its heavy rock influence somewhat overshadows most of what he’s trying to communicate. In among the aforementioned group of songs is ‘Buffalo’, which has the definitive Tyler, The Creator sound in both his lyrics and his production. His delivery carries an aggressive edge accompanied by brash drums and sci-fi style synth keys, a lot of which was found on his earlier work. A sudden change of mood takes place on ‘Find Your Wings’, as Tyler channels his Jazz influences through his production, whilst using some vocal assistance to convey his message that “The world is yours”. It’s production and sentiments such as this that Tyler does not get enough credit for, with the intricacies of some his beat making not always fully appreciated.
The best of Tyler can be seen in the later stages of the album, as he slows down the pace and allows his production and storytelling to flourish. ‘Blow My Load’ is as graphic as the title suggests, with it’s the sultry production only aiding the songs subject matter. There is a second part to ‘Blow My Load’ that acts as an interlude into the next track, ‘2Seater’, which is another fine example of Tyler’s production ability. He also flexes his lyrical prowess with lines like, “hoping that I ditch the chords and go pick up the pen again / ‘cos I killed the dark sh*t like I’m motherf*cking Zimmerman”. There are a few of examples throughout the project that Tyler displays his intelligent wordplay, something that he’s always been capable of, but perhaps doesn’t show enough of on this particular album.
All the album’s featured appearances come back-to-back starting with the ScHoolBoy Q assisted, ‘The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6–12 (Remix)’, which is a heavy-hitting, well produced track that suits both Tyler’s and Q’s styles. The contrast between the track that follows is striking, as Tyler discusses a relationship with a girl who is younger than him on ‘F*cking Young / Perfect’. With the hook provided by Charlie Wilson as well as help from Kali Uchis, the very honest song shows a mature side of Tyler and can be compared to ‘Awkward’, from his previous album, Wolf. The standout track when reading the track list and listening to the album is ‘Smuckers [Ft. Kanye West & Lil’ Wayne]’ as Tyler manages to bring out some of the best verses from two of Hip Hop’s biggest names, in addition to delivering a solid verse himself.
Despite a couple of good moments, Cherry Bomb sounds like a backward step from the impressive Wolf of two years ago, with its lack of genuine direction as well as some questionable mixing affecting the listening experience. Though Tyler’s core fan base is likely remain loyal, there will no doubt be sighs of disappointment from others.