Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I want to accept Simon Reynolds' judgment on Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak -- that the album's "cold and dehumanized sounds" reveal an unusually transparent Kanye -- but the damn thing is so monotonous; what's transparent is the paucity of ideas. Sure, the 808 programs, string arrangements, and the artist's fixation on misery as signifier of aesthetic ambition weave a temporary spell; but West's shortcomings as a melodist become clear. After the Violator-era Depeche Mode worthy "Welcome to Heartbreak," the anti-single "Love Lockdown," and maybe "Robocop," the rest is a slog. As an admirer of Kanye's public rants, I balk at the kind of perversity that requires us to accept his rejection of capitalism. Money doesn't buy him happiness -- okay, fine. But capitalism got him the fancy gizmos he deploys to uneven effect here. If Kanye wants to continue to be the venal human being that we've loved for years, he must understand that therapy need not require the unfurling of blue-shaded dolor for the entire session.
Posted by Alfred Soto at 9:27 PM