What a surprise this album is. Hints of rock, dance, electro and anything and everything appear. It's superb. It's certainly the most experimental hip-hop album I've ever heard.
Starting off with a slightly weak song, Cold Wind Blows (by Em's standards), this album get's going on the second track, Talkin' 2 Myself. This track sees Em reflecting upon his last two albums and telling us "Encore, I was on drugs/Relapse I was flushing 'em out". With a fantastic muted guitar riff and heavy hip-hop beats offset against Eminem's fiery, intricate lines and Kobe's great vocal chorus give us an early high point in the album.
Eminem/Rihanna - Love the Way You Lie
4 tracks in and we have Won't Back Down feat. Pink... very different. Its backing track is not what you would expect from a hip-hop song. This, however is what this man is all about. Em shouts his rap over the top of a Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar riff and Mitch Mitchell style drum part and Pink sings our chorus with her usual rasp and angst. A fantastic song, a real treat for fans of crossover sensibilities.
Going Through Changes is brilliant. Using an Ozzy Osbourne sample for its chorus and a very catchy acoustic guitar riff underneath the verses is a master stroke and lyrically, wow, emotive isn't the word. "I'm hating my own reflection" being just one line showing his self loathing. Seduction is the opposite, though still great, it's completely self promoting.
No Love is superb, it uses Haddaway's What is Love? very cleverly as a sample and Lil' Wayne sounds really good on this (might be the first time I've ever said that). Space Bound is very different as well, the backing track has a real Bends-era Radiohead feel about it.
Cinderella Man is very good. Lyrically stunning. The type of track that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Love the Way You Lie is a genuine rap ballad. This may well be the album's peak. I can see this being a very big song. Possibly a number 1 for Em and Rihanna if released as a single. Her vocal is lovely and a wonderful contrast to Em's aggressive rapping style.
In all, this is a very good album. Lyrically, nothing he ever does will be able to match his second and third albums, but for the sheer change of musical direction, this album deserves to be held in high regard. I do, at points, wish he wouldn't sing so many choruses, but I have to say I can overlook this. There's still a fire in his rapping and lyrically, it's still better than anything released these days by other artists. His sexism and homophobia are still there, but, as I've always felt with Eminem, this is tongue-in-cheek - excuse the pun. At points this album is astonishing. Very pleased with this one, along with MGMT, Eminem has made a record we can really celebrate this year.