Kanye West’s just-released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is getting mondo love from such divergent entities as Rolling Stone (a rare five-star review — which, according to its ratings scale, equates to a “classic” — written by Rob Sheffield, a critic whose style and insight I admire but whose star-rating designations often seem overly generous) and Pitchfork (an even rarer 10.0 rating). Moreover, the album is currently pulling down a 92 score on Metacritic, which puts it in the top 25 best-reviewed records of the last decade.
I’ve listen to it twice, and my first reaction is that it’s not as instantly likable — it’s less cohesive, both sonically and thematically — as his previous output. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the hyperbolic praise being thrown around so far seems a tad much. Of course, I reserve final judgment until digging in more thoroughly. In fact, I’m listening to it as I type this, getting more immersed into its sinister, densely layered pleasures by the minute.
I should also say that I’ve been someone who’s had no problem separating West’s narcissistic, often foolish off-stage behavior from his obvious gifts as a musical artist. The guy actually seems to be getting more interesting the higher and more controversial his profile gets, the opposite of most musicians who typically get less creatively vital the deeper we get into their career. West no doubt deserves five stars for that rare feat.