Album Review: T-Pain – ‘rEVOLVEr’

The Auto-Tune king is best when others do the warbling

[a]T-Pain[/a] is a very versatile man. Sometimes he sounds like an oversized bumblebee passionately remonstrating with a bouncer in a doomed attempt to gain entrance to a club, while at other times he sounds like an alien race of humanoid Theremins attempting first contact with the human race. There are also times when he sounds like a bog-standard rap vocalist who’s got a Jew’s harp stuck in his throat.

Yes, it’s fair to say that, while [a]Jay-Z[/a] wishes death to Auto-Tune, [a]T-Pain[/a] is its enthusiastic reanimator, repeatedly jamming the defibrillator pads into the chest of one of pop music’s most irritating presences. While Auto-Tune is breathing, he is able to walk the earth garlanded in riches, bitches and expensive stitches. His relationship to Auto-Tune is like one of those people with a brain tumour that just happens to enable them to play virtuoso piano or speak Sanskrit without learning it first.

Shame, because it’s not that there’s nothing going on in ‘rEVOLVEr’ (don’t get me started on that title). Hypnotic booze anthem ‘Bottlez’ is superb, T’s vocal curdling conspicuous in its absence, and there’s a lovely snoozy jazziness to the warm ‘5 O’Clock’, which invites [a]Wiz Khalifa[/a] and a sampled [a]Lily Allen[/a] in for a cuddle. This sort of proves that [a]T-Pain[/a] is an anomaly in modern rap, in that the more he loads his tracks up with guests who might otherwise be intrusive, the more he keeps himself away from the mic and thus improves matters, leaving the listener with the simple pleasures of expansive, wide-arsed electronic funk like ‘Turn All The Lights On’ (featuring Ne-Yo) or the profanity blitz of ‘Nothin’, upon which Californian legend E-40 is the chief destroyer. But it’s a shame Mr Pain needs these cameos as much as his instrument of choice – without them, the temptation for the listener would be to simply Auto-Tune out.

Pete Cashmore