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The dynamic between the two best known members of Odd Future is never been illustrated better than on both of their recent albums. Earl Sweatshirt's I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside was a brisk, focused and honed showcase that encouraged listeners to try and feel around in the darkness along with the rapper. Tyler, the Creator's Cherry Bomb, however, feels more like a drawn out and unbalanced experiment of musical inspiration emulation done in the sugary sunshine that Tyler and Earl used to avoid together.

The album opens with a tip of the cap to N.E.R.D. on 'Deathcamp'. Tyler has always been upfront about his admiration for the group - Pharrell Williams in particular - but this track upgrades his fondness to outright veneration. Listeners have already spotted the song's production similarities to N.E.R.D.'s 'Lapdance', from the crunching guitars to the breathless backing beat. But Tyler even takes the opportunity to namedrop the group's importance to him, just in case you missed it, by rapping, "In Search Of... did more for me than Illmatic." But while a debt to N.E.R.D. is clearly owed on 'Deathcamp', and many others on the record for that matter, it is probably the best track on the album's more bombastic half.

Cherry Bomb shines brightest when Tyler indulges in his softer, neo-soul inclinations. The relaxed jazz of 'Find Your Wings', with a gorgeous mixture of piano, saxophone, xylophone, marimba and synth, is so pleasant on the ears that Stevie Wonder, another idol of Tyler's, would likely by jealous. This tone is further explored with lovely results on several of the album's three longest tracks: '2Seater', 'Fucking Young/Perfect' and 'Okaga, CA'. The gorgeous twinkle and the tremendously inventive chord progressions allow these songs to truly take advantage of Tyler's skill as a producer and arranger, as well as his predilection for exposition.

But, for whatever reason, Tyler felt the need to fill much of the space on the album's first half with blown-out production that does not so much snarl as it does frustrate. The title track is perhaps the most frustrating example of this. 'Deathcamp' had proven that this album was capable of making a banger that could shine in the daylight. But 'Cherry Bomb' obscures Tyler's distinctive vocals far back in the mix over a cacophony of digital distortion that has been deployed to an inappropriate extent. Given that, on this track, Tyler proclaims, "I am a god," and Kanye appears later on 'Smuckers,' it would seem that these overblown moments are an attempt at Yeezus emulation. Considering the success of Kanye and other noisy rap artists, such as Death Grips, and the natural aggression and caustic tone to Tyler's vocals, it might have seemed like a natural fit. However, when juxtaposed with his jaunts into soul, the flairs of jarring anger and hostility only serve to annoy and stymie the loveliness of his other tracks.

Tyler has long received criticism for his album's long runtimes and he has shortened Cherry Bomb accordingly. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, compared to over 70 on his past two endeavours, this record is comparatively more terse. However, it is the moments when Tyler allows his natural talent and appreciation for the charm of soul music to take over that the album truly flourishes. Perhaps because he has branched out in so many different directions, it should be no surprise that Tyler has landed both his best and worst efforts on the same album. But while Cherry Bomb's low moments hold back the album's highlights, hopefully the high points are a sign of things to come. Ideally, Tyler will make an effort to deploy his more soulful influences on a grander scale, as that could result in a truly extraordinary display of his talents. He is self-aware enough to understand and admit that he is, like any artist, the product of his inspirations. It is just a matter of drawing from those that work best with his skill set.

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