For a very good reason that I will reveal later, I took a peek at the next few days of albums coming up. It just so happens that today’s record, Andre 3000’s The Love Below, precedes its sidekick: Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx. As a side note, I did split up the two ‘sides’ because they’re so lengthy.
And after listening to it the whole way through – by which I mean all 78 minutes, just a few minutes shy of maxing out the length of a CD – I am left mostly underwhelmed and hoping that its counterpart redeems the set.
It’s not even so much that the album is “bad” in the conventional sense. There’s some really quality stuff on here. “She’s Alive” is an interesting, thought-provoking song with clips of what I gathered is Andre Benjamin’s mom talking about raising A3K as a single mother. “My Favorite Things” sounds like a dope acid jazz song, but does get old after about the 4th minute, and is just tedious for its remainder.
There’s “Roses,” which is my mom’s favorite OutKast song, and no that’s not a joke . And of course, the ubiquitous “Hey Ya!” Someone please make it go away. That song is such a curse for this band, because it’s so syrupy and poppy and, in some sense, a cash grab.
But to me, The Love Below should have been a case of “less is more.” 78 minutes is too much. It’s about 28 minutes too much, by my estimation. I don’t think the feedback of “This album doesn’t have enough!” is as harsh and damaging as “This album has far too much.”
Take, for example, a song like “Happy Valentine’s Day.” It takes nearly 3+ minutes of a 5+ minute song takes forever to get to the actual ‘song’ portion. I wouldn’t ever claim to be a record producer of any sort, but I lost interest by the time Andre started singing.
The amount of material that the group could have saved and turned into additional EPs or something else is astounding. It just feels like the record goes on forever, which… isn’t exactly positive.
And yet, somehow, surely on the back of “Hey Ya!” this set has sold 11 million copies (5.5 million units, technically).
From Andre 3000‘s side of their mega-album, here’s “Dracula’s Wedding” –
Standout tracks: “Roses” and “Pink & Blue” and “A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)”
Weakest track: Although “God” is an amusing interlude, it’s still an interlude. So is “Where Are My Panties” and yes, that’s the real title. As is “Good Day, Good Sir” even though I love Farnsworth Bentley.
RIYL: Mainstream pop, mainstream rap, mainstream hip-hop.