Album Review: Travis Scott Leans on His Strengths on ASTROWORLD

The Lowdown: Travis Scott is an immensely talented Houston native and onetime protege of Kanye West. ASTROWORLD, his third solo album, is wonderfully ambitious, at least when it comes to the beats. Fans of his first two LPs will find much to admire. The woozy Auto-Tune is back. His greatest asset is his ear — his taste in haunting melodies and atmospheric beats.

The Good: “Stargazing” has two separate musical movements. The first is a slow swim through psychedelia, and the second is urgent and sharp. Scott balances the two ideas like a chef balancing sweet and sour, enhancing each with the inclusion of the other. On “Sicko Mode”, Scott teases Drake’s voice before switching gears; “Sicko Mode” has not two, but three musical movements. It’s this compositional thinking that makes Scott so interesting, and he doesn’t neglect the finale. “Coffee Bean” is a silky jazz number built around a gently stroked guitar, while Mr. Scott coos, “I’m bad, bad news.” It’s the most surprising sound on the album, saved for last.

The Bad: Many of the lyrics concern Scott’s idea of luxury — high fashion, fine drugs, and sexually skilled women. The flows are infectious, and he does occasionally flash some wit or turn a phrase. But large swathes of the lyrics are impersonal, short on humor, and tending toward cliche.

The Verdict: With an artist like Travis Scott, your mileage will vary depending on your own priorities. The music might take your breath away, if the worst of the lyrics don’t make you roll your eyes. He’s very good at what he’s good at, but he’s not what you’d call well-rounded. Still, not everyone who has something to say, says it in words.

Essential Tracks: “Coffee Bean”, “Stargazing”, and “Sicko Mode”

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