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PARTYNEXTDOOR'S P3 Album Review

The OVO sound titan returned with his long anticipated album, but was it enough?

19th Sep 2016

Credit: GQ

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Following up his popular second LP, PARTYNEXTDOOR 2 and PARTYNEXTDOOR COLOURS EP, the OVO sound behemoth, Jahron Brathwaite has returned with a third effort. Being 16 tracks long, and a features list that only includes his mentor Drake, the album initially seems to exude a level of confidence. But if one sits down to listen, the true purpose of this lone wolf attitude can be summed up in two words: ‘expansion’ and ‘experimentation’.

While PARTYNEXTDOOR is apparent to the masses as an upcoming star, he has not quite reached mainstream appeal and is still aiming for a specialised sonic sound. While the moody, atmospheric RnB soundscape he uses has been utilised a fair amount by other artists, his low baritone/bass voice with a good level of agility coupled with self-production has ensured his melodic ability has never suffered.

Being a writer for many artists including Drake and Rihanna is a testament to his ability but would it be good enough for his 3rd solo effort? “High hopes” is how the album begins, referring to his lust for a past lover and at 7:22 it’s also his longest ever studio production. It quickly becomes apparent however, that due to poor refrains such as “she call me daddy” and “I want you by my side” and such lines that repeat throughout coupled with its extremely repetitive structure and monotone sound, it’s a song that doesn’t reach anywhere near its potential. “Don’t run” may be my favourite on the album from a production standpoint, the kick drum weaves in nicely with the vocal melody and the keys compliment as an effect.However once more, lyrics such as “you’s a vegan but you going ham” further isolate meaning from his lyrics. “Nobody” utilises more of the same theme, but has the vocals pushed through the front with a faster pace.

The album tends to speed up at the track numbers progress; “Not Nice” and “Only U” are throwbacks to the reggae from a past era. “Not Nice” has the pop appeal that many songs on radio desire; a catchy hook combined with an uptempo consistent drum base. While similarities can be felt between it and One Dance by Drake, Brathwaite’s attempt has enough of his own charisma to have made sound distinct. “Don’t Know How” is an RnB styled track that harkens back to his first tape, but at the same time is as unmemorable as other tracks on the album such as “High Hopes”, with the love led lyrics that have been overused throughout. The intricate use of backing vocal melodies on the track, prevents it from feeling empty however. “Problems and selfless” has a deeper, slower vibe to it, something that could be played while reminiscing, the clarity in his vocals is lost at times however and detracts from any message he was trying to convey. “Temptations” is a slightly faster but still moody track that emanates sexual desire. “Spiteful” and “Joy” are two tracks that stray from the contemporary type of song structure, with verses and bridges intertwined, and has a strong use of guitar samples and improvisation sprinkled throughout.

The standard trap style kick and snare has remained, giving the songs a calmer yet uptempo feeling. “Transparency” is an eerie and empty track, which again is designed to feel more free; it has very loose feel similar to “Problems and Selfless” with spaced out vocals in the first half, then speeds up as it moves into its 2nd half. “Brown Skin” is almost a love poem, but the most intriguing part is Brathwaite’s ability to ride such an irregular chord progression. “1942” sounds like a party song that could’ve been on PARTYNEXTDOOR 2, and “Come and See me” has the only minimal feature on the entire album, which is a feat in this day and age and is another mix of slow chords and uptempo drumming. The final track “Nothing Easy to Please” summarises the album as a whole; music that would be suitable in the background, but not at the forefront of any activity.

While there were interesting attempts to stray from his signature sound, Jahron Brathwaite still has not managed to create a convincing concept album, with overplayed themes and meaningless lyrics. He has however managed to utilise his melodic songwriting skills to still please most ears and with only one feature across the 16 tracks.

Listen to PARTYNEXTDOOR's "P3" here:

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