Los Angeles bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner is back with his sophomore studio album, Apocalypse, released on Brainfeeder Records. The record was produced by label owner and renowned recording artist Flying Lotus, and has a considerable amount of buzz around it based on Mr. Thundercat’s stellar background and the acclaim attached to his first record, Golden Age Apocalypse, released in 2011. Once a member of Suicidal Tendencies, Thundercat branched off from roaring punk to an experimental, mixed genre– and the results have been terrific.
Apocalypse only rarely falls into the sophomore slump. The whole album maintains a relaxed vibe without ever becoming boring— the spirit of reggae works its way into electronica. Some of the lyrics can be a little too motivational poster-like with cringe worthy gems peppering most of the songs, like “Listen with your heart and sing through all of your fears!” But, after the intitial, “Huh?”, these lines meld with the rest of the songs and the easy-going vibes continue undisturbed. If nothing else, they provide excellent ironic catchphrases to share with your friends!
Out of the twelve tracks on the record there are several that stand out. “Special Stage” (culprit of the above lyric) has a great Motown riff within its electronic weavings and “Evangelion” takes you back to the simpler time of ’90s alternative in its Radiohead-esque swirl. Also, fellow pop-culture nerds will enjoy tracks such as “Life Aquatic,” and “Tron Song.”
Despite minor flaws, Apocalypse is a fantastic record on which Thundercat takes chances. Even if they don’t work, at least he took them—especially coming from an industry that has become so formulaic. This is an album that is so non-genre specific that everyone will be able to find a track to their liking, so be sure to at least scan the iTunes previews if you don’t have enough dough to take a chance on an interesting record. No shame pal, we’ve all been there.