Northampton’s premier rapper returns with a fascinating follow-up to 2019’s Nothing Great About Britain. The first half brings bassy, pugilistic tracks with truculent titles such as Vex and Wot. The second half is more melodic, peaking with the wonderful, Pixies-referencing Push. The music is uniformly excellent, Slowthai’s inimitable querulous yelp in fine form across all 14 songs. It’s the endless, aggressive solipsism that becomes quite tiring. Even the theoretically conversational track NHS is like being pressed into a polite chat with the bug-eyed bloke blocking your exit from the toilets.
There’s tons of drugs, booze, money and mental health in his lyrics, yet barely an interesting bar about any of them. The exhausted, empty hedonism popular with his peer group is leavened by some self-awareness and good cheer, but not enough. No one combines technical ability and thrilling unpredictability on stage like Slowthai, his boorish behaviour at last year’s NME awards an unfortunate exception. Yet when Cancelled makes reference to the awards’ ensuing Twitterstorm, its bullish, chest-prodding chorus (“How you gonna cancel me?/ 20 awards on the mantelpiece”) is delivered by amanuensis Skepta instead of Ty. Like the album, it’s good – but could have been great.