When it comes to content, Eminem hasn’t been this presentable in years. His crusade on Trump and white privilege is fiery and perhaps admirable. It’s truly unfortunate the music behind the ideas makes Revival the most abrasive and unlistenable he’s ever sounded.
Oh, Marshall. When critics savaged Recovery, there may have been more than a healthy dose of ‘kill your idols’ at play. After all, he set out to make a direct pop record, and the album certainly succeeded at least in that sense. In 2017, tearing the aging icon apart is far less fun. Let’s get it out of the way: yes, Eminem is trying, once again, to grow up. What’s more, he’s gone beyond the Hallmark-lite sentiments of ‘Not Afraid’ towards something actually meaningful, taking on white detachment and comfort in society and the figurehead of our ills, Trump.
His good intentions just make how genuinely excruciating this record is all the more sad. Slim Shady may have spent the last decade and change putting out bad records, but Revival stands as the first truly terrible entry into his already sagging discography. Accents be damned, Relapse boasted an energized rapper (its unbearable lead single aside), even Encore had numerous highlights, but this?
It’s a scattered, gasping mess. Before release, Marshall Mathers said something to the effect of feeling he’d finally figured out the balancing act of pleasing everyone in his wide fanbase late in his career: essentially, to include a song for freakin’ everybody. Unsurprisingly, in trying to reach everyone he’s made a sporadic, unfocused, overlong mass that will likely appeal in full to no one.