As stupid as it is, the first thing I thought of upon realizing I'd need to review Ye is Mission: Impossible III. As Billy Crudup's understated villainy is revealed, he sighs, “It's complicated.”

Fittingly - somehow - Kanye West even provided the theme for the film in 2006. Needless to say, Mr. West has not been an ally to himself of late. Whatever the reality may be, since the very public episode during his Saint Pablo tour, rather than shelter himself away and heal, West only seems to have leaned into his relative mania, scorching the news cycle in the past months with Trump fandom and remarks on slavery that we won't even try and go into again.

Easy as that might make it to want to dismiss a new Kanye West record off hand, few of us were ever going to do that. What's less expected here is the tact with which West took on a post-break down, press crisis album. There's no MAGA talk, and little of the dosed self-help guru persona West has taken to (whether on Twitter or TMZ). Instead, West has taken deeply to his Wyoming recording paradise, as displayed in the livestream debut of this album there. Try as he might, Kanye West doesn't make for much of an Isaac Brock.

Loosely, Ye seems to serve as something of a manic episode. To be fair, West did re-record the album in a fit of honesty post-TMZ, and there's something to be said for a man who once shot himself out of a rocket truly accepting (and seemingly reveling in) his bipolar condition. It just doesn't seem to make for entirely compelling music here.

Whereas The Life of Pablo found strength in absolute maximalism, with its production and overstuffed guest roster overcoming a freewheeling, unfocused lead star, Ye trims its cast to essential players. Largely still bare, however, are West's vocals, and without the flair of Pablo, they more often stumble. Closer 'Violent Crimes' aims to offer sweetly defensive feelings for his young daughter, he comes off as subdued (and perhaps a bit creepy, with West's protective desire to control the women in his life), with guests Dej Loaf and Ty Dolla $ign left the heavy lifting.

Ye works best during the darker moments of West's “episode”, with opener 'I Thought About Killing You', opening with an extended chat contemplating suicide and murder, Kanye darkening his vocals to muse, “Sometimes I think bad things. Really, really bad things.” It can be startling, bringing to mind the leaked Eminem records during his addiction, except, you know, listenable (Google 'Wee Wee'. You will, and will not, regret it.)

'Yikes' is also intriguing, with West repeating, “Sometimes I scare myself” amidst its ominous hook, the verses themselves bathed in manic ego, making for something of a frightening dance anthem. Unfortunately, even these relative high points feel under-cooked. West mining rougher sounds and samples worked wonders on DAYTONA (and, lord willing, shall for Nas' album) because it had a lightening fast, grimly focused rapper at its helm, here it undercuts West's barer thoughts a bit.

However, things only begin to truly sag as Kanye brightens up and tries to go earnest. Songs such as 'Wouldn't Leave' and the afore-mentioned 'Violent Crimes' are sweet (if, again, worrisomely possessive) in intent, but ultimately feel saccharine and glossy, smothered in their own creamy coating.

It must be acknowledged: nearly all guests acquit themselves with fervor and verve, from the nearly omnipresent Ty Dolla $ign backing vocals to an inevitably memorable Charlie Wilson appearance. That is, save the most anticipated presence: the Kid Cudi-boasting 'Ghost Town' is the only genuine disaster here. A sludge of obnoxiously dramatic guitars serves as a backdrop largely for Cudi, whose gloom here seems to have subsided further into whiny parody.

That dumbfounding stumble aside, Ye is an ambitious misfire. While some fans have been quick to shriek “terrible!” and the like, West risked his inner world in a bi-polar story. Equally misguided will be the claims of brilliance: whether rushed or bare by intent, Ye suffers from an abundance of ideas and a lack of follow through. A man's accelerated journey from self-consumed mania to renewed gratitude for the woman in his life should have been thrilling to ride along for. It's too bad it wasn't.