Album Review: ....Tangled Up

WonkeyDude98
Mini-Description: In my fifteenth album review, Thomas Rhett flails around trying to be every genre at once, but ends up being nothing.


Best Song: "The Day You Stop Lookin' Back"
Worst Songs: "South Side", "T-Shirt", "Vacation", "Crash and Burn", "Anthem", "Single Girl", "I Feel Good" ft. LunchMoney Lewis , "Learned It From The Radio", "Like It's The Last Time", "Playing With Fire" ft. Jordin Sparks

Most of you know my opinion of Thomas Rhett.

But here's the honest truth: I didn't want to hate this. For what it is, at first glance it seems to work, especially compared to Thomas Rhett's horrendous first album It Goes Like This, which you could argue was even less tight and even more obnoxious.
But honestly, this would have been my least favorite album of 2015 if it wasn't for the immovable block of awfulness that was you-know-who, as well as probably the worst album I've ever heard. I usually don't like degrading an album just for not being a certain genre (in this case, country, which RYM seems to agree with). But this album tries to be country pop mixed with every other genre in existence, but overshoots and ends up being nothing.

Thomas Rhett's voice alone is enough to want to rip his larynx out. Imagine Adam Levine doing country, except even more punchable, with less range, and less personality. His irritatingly shrill nasal tone mixes horribly with his pseudo-Southern accent. And his ego....his vocal tone is so smug and sleazy, but not even in a charming way. He has no swagger or edge, which is what you need for such a gross persona.

Oh yeah, and just in case you needed any affirmation, this is probably the least country I've ever heard from a country album. In fact, this doesn't even pull off the pop-rock country it's trying to. I would point out how awful each instrumental is one-by-one, but other than the horrendous kazoo-driven acoustic South Side, there's nothing here. You can't even tell that pitch-correction was abused across the board here, because no melody sticks out. It doesn't even fall under the percussion-over-melody template, it's more like fluff-over-everything.

Now, to be fair, there are some memorable instrumental moments here. I Feel Good's chorus coasts off this incredibly irritating synth squeal that you can only hear after Thomas Rhett sings "can nobody bring me down down down down down". But here's a fun fact: did you know that both of the other ones were plagiarized? Crash and Burn mostly relies on this whistle to drive the melody, while also having a barely audible synth line bouncing against the flimsy drum machine. However, the guitars you can hear in the back of the mix were stolen from Sam Cooke's Chain Gang without credit. And the only other song that's anywhere near as melodically memorable is the acoustic ballad Die A Happy Man. This is a song I really wanted to like. The lyrics are at least heartfelt, and Thomas Rhett doesn't get obnoxiously grating until the final chorus, but these guitar chords are almost identical to Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud. And I wouldn't have a problem with that if this song didn't blow up less than a year after that song did.

Wanna know three people in Thomas Rhett's enormous team of monkeys who helped make this album? Chris Stapleton, Jordin Sparks, and Lunchmoney Lewis. Stapleton is quite actually a backup singer, used on various songs like Learned It From The Radio. Jordin Sparks is ACTUALLY FEATURED on Playing With Fire, but her voice is so neglected in the mix compared to Rhett that she's basically a backup singer. Lunchmoney Lewis....first this, then Meghan Trainor, then Pitbull. The Bills EP was basically perfect, but you really are grabbing for cheques now, aren't you? Lewis doesn't help the already hapless I Feel Good, given his monotone delivery, scraped-away charisma, and eight completely forgettable bars. What's wrong, Atkins Jr.? Afraid you'd get shown off by your own servants and backup singers? Because you probably would.

The lyrics...can't I just review Lori McKenna or Dave Cobb's compilation or Jason Isbell or Brandy Clark, and NOT THIS?! This album's themes are a hopeless grab-bag of bro country clichés and brand names. Why would you call out Budlight Lime on I Feel Good (as well as countless other brands) if you yourself don't even like it?!?!?! That's just one example of how derivative the writing is, because then you have self-speakers like the PARTY-PARTY-PARTY anthem Like It's The Last Time, and the pandering of Single Girl that would embarrass One Direction.

That's at its best. The lyrical content is only memorable when it's braying and mindless. I wouldn't care too much about Vacation, because the chorus is just groan-worthily generic and it starts off nicely with the guitar snarl, but then Thomas Rhett decides to jack the Migos flow. T-Shirt is a leering, creepy jab at country funk that's completely gutless and has the indecency to include lines like "it's hard to close the door when making out". Crash and Burn is a crass breakup song where Thomas Rhett knows he's the reason the relationship failed, but is perfectly content to move on with his life as if nothing happened.

That's before we get into the irredeemable atrocity South Side, where Thomas Rhett mimics DJ Mustard's call sign, not even to mention how I previously established why the beat is absolutely atrocious. And that's before we get into the lyrics, which are a set of commands for every girl in the world to "shake their south side". I will again refer you to the borderline unlistenable beat with no groove or melody.

Now, one of the things Thomas Rhett tried to do on this album is copy Pop 101 by Marianas Trench (which for the record is an absolutely amazing song that I talked about in my re-review of Astoria), but instead of Marianas Trench where they were laughing at and simultaneously accepting the pop formula they were part of, Thomas Rhett (for the record, in both Anthem and Learned It From The Radio) laughs at the bro-country formula, but doesn't have enough self-awareness or nuance to realize that he's also part of this, as this whole album has proved. The joke's on him -- but not in the right way.

...if I'm completely honest, there are two songs here I can tolerate lyrically. Die A Happy Man, even if it's a ripoff, it at least has some sentiment behind it, it's a sweet song. Just off this premise alone, the stripped-back acoustic The Day You Stop Lookin' Back is probably the best song here, as Thomas Rhett tries to help a girl forget about her former boyfriend. But even that sounds sort of leering, as the framing makes it seem like Thomas Rhett is trying to make her forget about her boyfriend just to get with him. Gross.

I'm a bit surprised this album didn't make me angrier mid-review. Maybe it's because I had no better expectations from the man who wrote All American Middleclass White Boy, maybe it's because I see the appeal (which is kind of terrifying).

But that doesn't make this good. Not only is this very much not country, but this is barely even pop. It's completely juvenile, has no originally memorable melodies, is blander than Charlie Puth's debut album, and a singer who is too talentless to even think. I don't like using nepotism as an insult, but given Rhett Atkins was a super popular (and awful) country songwriter at the time, he's the only reason that Thomas Rhett was allowed to make this abomination, a 0/10 on all grounds. Avoid this like the plague. This is WonkeyDude98, and I don't like to think, but I also don't like to drink.

Comments

That pun. But yeah, awful album. Hated every song. Seriously T Shirt was my favorite here... - ProPanda

I'm aspiring to be the Mr. 96 of album reviews.

T-Shirt was your favorite lol - WonkeyDude98

It had a groove to it, so I didn't outright hate it. But the lyrics were just gross af.
The rest of the songs were disasters:
DIHM was boring, South Side is the worst country song ever, even when taking FGL into consideration, CAB was lyrically a mess, and Vacation is the cringiest song of 2016 by a mile, even including Sweatshirt. There, I said it. - ProPanda

What about TDYSLB? - WonkeyDude98

A forgettable song. Does nothing for me, never will - ProPanda

Who is Thomas Rhett?

A terrible music artist. - Satire

Preach it. - WonkeyDude98

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