By Kent Wong, March 22 2016 —
Riding the popularity of their 2012 Grammy-winning The Heist, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis return with the long awaited follow-up, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. The duo’s sound changes as the artists draw inspiration from introspective emotions, making for an album layered in self-discovery.
Unfortunately, that soulfulness isn’t consistent throughout the album, which has a few rough stretches. This is unsurprising — Macklemore and Lewis recorded the album over the course of a year in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest.
The acoustics and lyrics on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made present an undeniable depth Macklemore hasn’t presented before. This, coupled with contributions from guests like KRS-One, Leon Bridges and Chance the Rapper bring strong talent to the table.
But there are a number of notable flaws — enough that the record may disappoint fans hoping for a bigger album than The Heist. The lyrics bounce between serious and trivial themes. Songs like “Growing Up” articulate Macklemore’s fears of fatherhood and his relationship with his nine-month-old daughter. But tracks like “Brad Pitt’s Cousin” and “Let’s Eat” focus on going to the club and eating donuts.
The album closes with a nine-minute track discussing white privilege. It’s a risky move, but Macklemore should be applauded for his attempt. Unfortunately, “White Privilege II” is poorly executed and dilutes the album’s depth.
Macklemore and Lewis have found their style, but a clear lack of production oversight hurts This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. Though the album won’t win over many new fans, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made presents strong artistic growth from the two artists.