Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Album Review: Eminem - 'Relapse'
Shady’s back – but the tired retreads and schlock horror make it a joyless return
Pictured in the press, he looked withdrawn, overweight, eyes sunken. Interviewed on New York rap station Hot 97, he admitted he was “in limbo” – creatively stagnant, washed up. But Mathers has always specialised in reworking his life into art. Five years on, then, we have ‘Relapse’. As the title suggests, it’s an album about kicking drugs, then falling off the wagon… and falling off hard.
The story is that this is a return to form, born out of a two-day recording stint with old mentor Dr Dre that spun out into six months of frenzied creation. The early signs, though, are bad. Lead-off single ‘We Made You’ is drab and formulaic, still under the apprehension that drug reference plus fart noises multiplied by threat to murder celebrity makes you a hilarious pop-cultural terrorist, while it actually makes you an 18-certificate “Weird Al” Yankovic.
The first couple of tracks of ‘Relapse’ do little to shake that feeling of retread. On ‘3am’, he admits to being “a hooligan who’s used to using hallucinogens”, wakes up surrounded by dead bodies and masturbates to Hannah Montana. Then ‘My Mom’ kicks off with the line “My mom, my mom, you’re probably tired of hearing about my mom…” and you’re thinking: well, yes, I am actually.
But then… it gets nasty. ‘Insane’, for instance. Genuinely stomach-churning, it commences with Eminem being raped by his stepfather – “Can’t we just play
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Oxford's finest flit between gnarly rock and frustrating slickness on an often-brilliant fourth album