Recovery (Album Review)
4 out of 5 stars
Once the most critically acclaimed artist of the decade, Eminem rightfully had many sceptics questioning his relevance prior to the release of his new album ‘Recovery’. After his last album, 2009’s dismally received ‘Relapse’, the Detroit rapper clearly had a lot to prove to critics and fans, especially in light of his five-year absence from the music scene. Quite simply, ‘Recovery’ was a genuine make-or-break project, a career crossroads for the seminal hip-hop performer.
Against all odds however, Eminem rises to the task, delivering his most heartfelt and memorable album since 2003’s ‘The Eminem Show’. From the gritty opener ‘Cold Wind Blows’ to the self-empowerment anthem ‘Not Afraid’, every song has the melody and hooks of a hit single in the making, not to mention thunderous grooves capable of setting any dance floor on fire.
Likewise, the album’s lyrics are among Eminem’s most relatable and moving yet. One of the biggest faults of previous albums ‘Relapse’ and ‘Encore’ was that they were dreary, cynical affairs lyrically, filled with uninspired toilet humour and off-putting references to the musician’s drug addiction. By contrast, ‘Recovery’ sees a freshly sober Eminem opening his horizons, covering topics such as fame, love, the music industry, and his ever-turbulent relationship with his ex-wife Kim.
Music-wise, this new honesty peaks in the heart-wrenching ballad ‘Love the Way You Lie’, a sublime duet with pop singer Rihanna. Featuring lyrics such as ‘Just gonna stand there and watch me cry/but that’s alright/I love the way you lie’, the song ranks among the best ever recorded by Eminem, managing to be both hypnotically catchy and quietly moving in the tradition of the best ballads.
Of course, a little bit of raunchy humour remains for good measure: it’s still an Eminem album after all. A case in point is mid-tempo stomper ‘Won’t Back Down’, which has the honour of containing the album’s goofiest line: ‘girl, shake that ass like a donkey with Parkinson’s’. Truly inspired, no?
Even if ‘Recovery’ is Eminem’s most pop-oriented album to date, it’s infinitely better than anything else’s he’s released recently. Perhaps the record’s carefree nature is what enables its success: realising that he can’t possibly recreate the intensity of his earliest albums, the MC has smartly opted not to try, resulting in a relaxed and effective comeback which should kick start the next phase of his career. Although he’s had his slumps, ‘Recovery’ once again confirms Eminem as among the most durable forces in hip-hop.
Track Listing (Highlights Marked with *)
1. Cold Wind Blows
2. Talkin’ 2 Myself (Ft. Kobe)
3. On Fire
4. Won’t Back Down (Ft. Pink) *
5. W.T.P. (White Trash Party)
6. Going Through Changes *
7. Not Afraid *
9. No Love (Ft. Lil Wayne)
10. Space Bound *
11. Cinderella Man
12. 25 to Life *
13. So Bad
14. Almost Famous
15. Love The Way You Lie (Ft. Rihanna) *
16. You’re Never Over
17. Untitled (hidden track)
‘Recovery’ is available to buy at all local record stores, as well as digitally from iTunes Music Store.