"Drunk” is Thundercat’s first full-length album in nearly four years. It is safe to say that due to a recently developed cult following, it has certainly had the warmest reception.
Throughout this album it is clear that Thundercat has finally been able to move past his previous fixation upon mortality, which became a recurring theme within his music following the death of Austin Peralta, a close friend and fellow Brain feeder label-mate. As it’s title suggests, “Drunk”, is a very welcome shift in tone for Thundercat, it serves as an exploration into the various phases of intoxication. The album starts off in a very playful energetic and humorous tone and gradually develops into a darker more disorientating and self-pitying tone more reminiscent of his previous album “Apocalypse”. It can at one minute be extremely smooth and parodic and immediately afterwards incredibly intense, complex and moody. Just like being paralytically drunk the album jumps from one thing to the next constantly dizzying and surprising the listener. The entire album is incredibly tongue and cheek and yet extremely innovative at the same time.
Pitchfork quite perfectly summarized the album stating that it is: “The aural equivalent of late-night channel surfing.”
This made me reflect upon my own late night television habits, and draw a few parallels with shows on the Adult Swim network such as the fever dream-esque talk show ‘The Eric Andre Show’ - hosted by Eric Andre a close friend of Thundercat himself - or the late night hallucinogenic blend of videos that compile an episode of “Off The Air”. Part of the thrill of “Drunk”, much like in these shows, is that you are never really certain of where Thundercat is going to take us next. Drunk’ incorporates elements from everything from ’70s funk and R&B to Psychedelic Jazz fusion springing from one to the next with little to nothing more Thundercat’s smooth falsetto to tie them together. Throughout the album he manages to simultaneously pay homage to the cheesy sounds of the past and parody them, perhaps most obvious in the oscillation between the oddball ‘meowing’ and cat worship in “A Fan’s Mail” to a classic homage to love ballads in “Show Me The Way” before then immediately delving into serious political commentary with Kendrick Lamar on “Walk On By”. Much like an Adult Swim sketch show, there are some throwaway moments scattered about within the album and certain aspects of the eccentric progression will not please everyone, however, for those cult fans or music aficionados, every element is certainly an interesting insight to Thundercat’s own development as an artist.
That is the principal charm of “Drunk” as a record; it is an intensely personal insight into the man behind Thundercat. It gives us a glimpse into the true whimsical, thoughtful, and goofy nature of Stephen Bruner as a person and addresses the relatable and often darkly humorous aspects of our day to day struggle. Whether it is tackling themes of alcoholism, drugs or heartbreak, Thundercat explores things within “Drunk” in an extremely bold manner that very few contemporary musicians would feel comfortable to attempt.
Here's a few links to Thundercat & Eric Andre if you feel like they're worth sticking up with the article, DISCLAIMER, it's the most beautifully strange show on air: