This review has been branded ‘Parental Advisory’ for explicit content.
2009’s Relapse (and the expanded release Relapse Refill) was, rapper, Eminem’s comeback release after a few years in the musical wilderness. Taking time out to focus on his family, grieve for his best friend and beat his addiction to prescription drugs, the Detroit native seemed to have lost the fire that made his pre-Encore work so good.
This week sees the release of Recovery and it’s a massive improvement and harkens back to his past works. He’s never going to top The Slim Shady LP or, it’s follow up, The Marshall Mathers LP, but this album shows us that he deserves to still be up there with the best of them.
Honesty was always a big part of Eminem’s work and that honesty is riddled throughout Recovery. The rapper goes as far to criticise his own work saying: “those last two albums didn’t count/Encore I was on drugs/Relapse I was flushing em out”. Tracks can be somewhat self-depricating, but not to the point that he’s wallowing in a pit of despair. To me, this album feels like Marshall trying to confront everything that has gone wrong over the past few years and help himself.
For the most part, the album is a very solid, serious experience that deals with Mathers’ struggles. However, there are breaks in this trend. A few less serious tracks are offered up. I can definitely see songs like ‘W.T.P.’ and ‘Wont Back Down’ – a track that features guest vocals from P!nk – taking over charts and clubs the world over. Don’t get me wrong, these tracks are still good, they just don’t pack the punch of tracks like ‘Going Through Changes’ (which samples Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’) and, album opener, ‘Cold Wind Blows’.
Alongside honesty, violence and humour are also make up a lot of Emiem’s lyrical content. Right from the off we’ve got lines like “you’ve never seen such a sick puppy/ fuck it a sick duck/I want my duck sicked mummy” and “might as well let my lips pucker/like Elton John/cos I’m a mean cock sucker”. Punchlines have always been a big part of Eminem’s work and I’m glad to see them return so prolifically. As for the violent side of things “grab the scissors and saws/cut out your livers, gizzards and balls/ throw you in the middle of the ocean in a blizzard with Jaws”.
Of course, lyrics like this are not for everyone and part of me thinks some of them are there purely to try and offend the listener as much as possible. However, don’t let this put you off. Recovery is a great album with something for everyone. It’s great to have someone as talented as Eminem back to his best.