Staring down the CULTURE II tracklist, aghast, I expected a pileup. The album's nearly two hour run time became the topic of conversation immediately upon release, but with the group cleverly withholding it until the last moment, many had naively assumed it would follow the carefully curated presentation of its forefather. CULTURE, after all, had been “the” moment for Migos: despite having long been touted as hip hop's next big movement (Haven't you heard? They're better than The Beatles) their proper debut, Yung Rich Nation, while far from a disaster, had somewhat fizzled upon arrival.

CULTURE was a clear course correction in all of the best ways. Migos were focused and delivering the hits with aplomb; in 2017 they could do no wrong. You couldn't go to a proper party without hearing the host's choice picks from the album. In a year of constant strife and Trump-isms, these three compatriots just wanted to offer a good time. The wave was so vital that returning less than a year later with the sequel was nearly an obligation.

So, we arrive once more at this behemoth of a tracklist. The general reaction, predictably and understandably, is that Migos should have seen to a bit (or rather a lot) of selective trimming, and that the bloated album was a clear attempt at squeezing every dollar out of streaming potential a la Drake's Views, only to the extreme. To the latter accusation, it seems a tad nearsighted to feign surprise at a trio that spend half their time on record speaking of financial concerns and gains for looking to cash in on their popularity. As to lack of restraint, it seems to be the entire – perhaps misunderstood – point.

CULTURE found Migos trying to get the party started. On its sequel, they are the party. They've essentially offered an album as playlist: there's no need to click through albums, they've got you, for that entire hour and forty-six minutes (phew). It's long enough to last through an entire pregaming session, leaving us free to head out on the town on a Migos high.

Morever, they'd be easier to judge for a cash grab if it all felt like a cash grab. To the contrary, for such a brazen project, it's shockingly light on its feet, hopping about stylistically without restraint. Inevitably, there are tracks that drag a tad, but they hardly matter during the rager they're intended to soundtrack.

The highlights massively outweigh the lesser offerings, the Pharrell-helmed (and single) 'Stir Fry' still sizzles, somehow smoothly leading into Quavo practically going full-Enya on 'Too Much Jewelry'. Yes, Enya. This gives way to 'Gang Gang', as radio-ready as any of the best Migos' pop anthems.

Quavo also takes a larger role in the production this time around, taking lead with an assist from DJ Durel on several tracks, including “Crown the Kings”, which boasts an eerie, drifting wail in its background, and some of the most focused verses from the trio to be found here.

As to the rapping itself, it's Takeoff who often sounds the most convicted here. Clearly having taken those 'Bad and Boujee' jokes to heart, he attacks his every verse with tenacity, despite near constantly being relegated to the back end of songs. The guests, on the other hand, can feel a bit obligatory. Though Cardi B and Nicki Minaj's friendly face off on lead single 'MotorSport' remains essential, Drake passes through with barely a nod, and Big Sean inevitably offers a dull, needless appearance. Yet, nothing can dull Migos' drive, and later, Quavo and Durel offer 'Made Men', which somehow manages to sound something like a mixed birth of early Kanye and DJ Premier, gracing the album with one of its finest (and unexpected) soundscapes.

With the demand for Migos material in 2017, certainly there are worse things that could have occurred in 2018 than too much from the trio, and while the album finds them as influenced by culture as influencing it this time around (see the goofy, amusingly on the nose “Narcos”), they've pulled off what's essentially a double album in a moment when most rap records struggle to entertain with trimmer and trimmer lengths. It may well be overwhelming in the moment, but Migos have provided us with a lot to unpack as we await whatever comes next. Chances are, you'll like this album far more after the glut of material becomes a tad less staggering over some months. If not, Migos seem at their best up against it. The last time their audience doubted them, well, we received CULTURE. Me thinks their future is bright however this shakes out.