The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Thundercat – ‘It Is What It Is’ (Brainfeeder)


In a sentence:

Stephen Bruner’s third Thundercat album ‘It Is What It Is’ is enormous fun and projects a message of acceptance, of living in the moment.

With just three album releases, Stephen Bruner, a.k.a. Thundercat, has an affirmed his reputation as a favourite of the modern funk connoisseur. He is one of the modern age’s highly admired bass players for his intense, groove-heavy lines driving every song he has had the joy of playing on. It Is What It Is, the latest Thundercat album, is chock full of dreamy choruses and those beautiful thundering bass lines, with some interstellar weirdness along the way.

The importance of humour in music is sometimes overlooked by “serious” musicians, but not Bruner; his new album has been decorated with goofy lines of speech and cheeky little jokes, such as the nasal spiel heard at the end of ‘Overseas’ before the start of second single release ‘Dragonball Durag’. One of the greatest things about this album is that despite its topic matter in some places, it sounds fun. You can hear the joy that went into making it, and as a result, it’s a joy to listen to. Relaxing, yet stimulating, and completely immersive. Tracks like lead single ‘Black Qualls’ and the wistful ‘Unrequited Love’ lull the listener into a state of trance, with the thumping bass resonating like a heartbeat.

Music video for ‘Dragonball Durag’

Blending hip-hop, funk and ambient sounds to create his own style of dream-funk, the album does not disappoint, and was worth the wait since Drunk in 2017. On the whole, it gives the listener a feeling of anticipation not too dissimilar to sensation of waiting for summer. The album alludes to warm evenings of procrastination, but with the ever-present doubt that things could always go astray. Its title hints at the philosophical approach Bruner has come to endorse, particularly after the loss of his close friend Mac Miller in 2018, and as a result the message of It Is What It Is appears to be one of acceptance, and living in the moment. A fantastic album to whisk you away somewhere a little more relaxing to pass some time in lockdown. (9/10) (Jacob Kendrew)

Listen to It Is What It Is by Thundercat here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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