IGOR — Tyler, the Creator

In many ways, IGOR is the culmination of Tyler, the Creator’s musical career. Over his past six albums, Tyler has continually developed and pushed his sound further (the last three especially). In particular, IGOR builds upon the creativity and restless energy found on Cherry Bomb with the pop sensibilities found in Flower BoyIGOR is extremely busy with heavily layered synths, multitudes of pitch-shifted voices, and complex bridges. Contrasted by the production, however, is the extremely simple singing and rapping from Tyler. He attempts to prioritize production, composition and arranging over vocals on this album and it’s a very bold move. Up until this point, Tyler has been a rapper first and foremost, and stripping most of that away ultimately removes a large chunk of what he does best. This means that he has to heavily rely on his production and singing in order to make up for that disadvantage.

This adventurous move usually pays off throughout IGOR. The best songs on the album such as “A BOY IS A GUN”, “IGOR’S THEME”, and “EARFQUAKE” propel Tyler to new heights. The dense production works in favor of these songs where the synths have character and the layered vocals and harmonies create gorgeous soundscapes. These songs invoke raw emotion as they glide along with the vocals to recreate nostalgic sounds about infatuation and love. The pitch-shifted vocals that are sometimes off key which appear on songs like “GONE, GONE/THANK YOU” blend together in unison to portray a surreal feeling of sentimentality. Influenced by Tame Impala, Tyler includes the signature “wobbly” synth sound in order to deepen the dreamlike sounds. The progressions on the bridges of songs like “I THINK” are well executed and are brimming with personality. The features complement the sound that Tyler envisions and blends seamlessly with the rest of the production. Lil Uzi Vert’s chorus on “IGOR’S THEME” is incredibly catchy and the strange combination of Playboi Carti/Charlie Wilson works out much better than it should. For a good chunk of IGOR, the production and sparse vocals hold up well.

However, the lack of rapping and shift in focus also hurts the album quite a bit in certain places. Inevitably, the drawbacks of putting so much emphasis on production become glaring during the album’s weakest moments. A lot of great qualities that result from Tyler focusing on vocals are rarely present in IGOR. The singing and sparse raps are often so simplistic that entire sections become repetitive based on a few phrases repeated constantly. Moreover, there’s rarely any clever songwriting or metaphors that appear in the songs. Tyler attempts to put emotion into his singing voice but it often falls flat. He still requires development in singing and it often feels like the emotions he tries to put in his voice never get across fully.

The dense production also works against this because all the layers within the songs distort everything so much that emotions cannot be conveyed properly. The vocals are catchy but are also very surface-level. This means that without some element of deeper songwriting or emotion, the songs end up becoming boring. For an album focused on the theme of love and breakups, this becomes problematic. Listeners become invested in this nostalgic sound of youthful romance but the deadpan delivery becomes a hindrance at times.

Another problem with IGOR is that it often wants to keep pushing ideas forward even if it loses direction in the song. On “WHAT’S GOOD”, the shift from aggressive drum breaks to the jazzy synths and back again feels heavy-handed. Later, the sudden change to an industrial sound is another sound shift that occurs too quickly. There are too many ideas Tyler wants to fit into this one three-minute song and it becomes a big mess. Furthermore, combining so many sounds together results in a muddy sound on songs like “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?”. The production sometimes meanders for way too long in bridge sections and other times will switch at breakneck speeds. But there doesn’t ever seem to be a reason for these changes apart from attempting to present as many ideas as possible to a listener. There is rarely a climax or tonal shift in the production that warrants these direction changes in the sound.

In the end, though, Tyler mostly manages to pull off this bold attempt at changing his sound. And this means I’m excited to see the progression to the next album. This is what artistry is all about: evolution. Even if it misses quite a bit, it’s still exciting enough to keep me interested in his development. IGOR is a great showcase for Tyler’s skill in both production and composition. Furthermore, it shows that he’s an artist not confined to a singular sound. That creativity is something to be applauded. Even though some parts are heavy-handed and it sounds awkward at times, it’s very much an indication of an artist experimenting beyond their comfort zone. There’s always room to improve his singing and production as he extends his arc to the next album. But he’s accomplished the most difficult part here in IGOR: shifting his focus directly away from what made him a star and building upon different skills.



About the Author


I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like these