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Drake Honestly, Nevermind

Drake succumbs to Peter Pan syndrome on the monotonous and posturing Honestly, Nevermind.

Honestly, Nevermind

Associations that usually come with the surprise album: a break from the formula, an escape from media narratives and press rollouts, a return to musical sincerity. Consisting of 50 minutes of house, electronic and dance tunes, Drake’s latest trades in such messaging but never delivers any meaningful revelations. It could be compared to The Weeknd’s Dawn FM from earlier this year – they’re both records that opted for left-turn genre exercises from artists accustomed to world-conquering statement albums. But unlike Abel Tesfaye, who used the opportunity to experiment with new characters and new registers (even going so far as to put on a fake accent), Drake’s songwriting struggles to find purpose on a base level.

It’s uniformly pretty. There are tasteful moments of instrumentation. Saxophones drift in spacious Vangelis-scapes, drums are saturated, synths thunder. Amid it all, Drake is wailing – not rapping – about vague romantic grievances yet never painting a single clear image. Lines like “Can’t fill this void between us”, “Guarding myself when I’m all on display” and “You lie and a piece of me dies” have all the lyrical heft of dead pixels in deep space.

Flashes of creativity like the flickering piano loops on ‘A Keeper’ and choppy vocal samples on ‘Sticky’ keep the album from totally sliding into 4/4 oblivion. ‘Tie That Binds’ is laced with whirling flamenco guitars and harbours a rare note of momentum; cresting then roaring back to life. It’s Drake at his best: transcendent in its idleness, perfect for staring at a ceiling to, even if it’s not really about anything.

Elsewhere this monotonous, posturing record serves only to remind us that Drake has become about Drake; perpetually adolescent, always wronged, never insightful. And if Honestly, Nevermind is to be taken seriously (some people will argue it isn’t) then he shows no signs of changing. “Time isn’t healing, it’s revealing”, he intones. For once, he couldn’t be more right.

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