ANNIVERSARY: an album review

by Kofi Addo Jnr

15/10/20

ARTIST: BRYSON TILLER
ALBUM: ANNIVERSARY
YEAR: 2020
LABEL: RCA RECORDS


I’ve always had a thing for music that serves as the soundtrack to your life or to specific periods of it, and since Bryson Tiller emerged with the dark yet smooth and sexy ‘Trapsoul’ five years back, it has been clear that he is one of the few artists capable of making such music. Three years after his very much underrated ‘True to Self’, he has finally emerged with ‘Anniversary’, and it’s almost as if he’s never been gone at all.

Almost immediately you start listening to ‘Anniversary’, you realise why fans miss god Tiller so much when he’s MIA. His seamless switching between singing and rapping on opener ‘Years Go By’, especially the part where he stretches out the syllables while singing (Danny Phantoooooom) showcases the best of both abilities. His gentle, pleading whispers on ‘Sorrows’ reminds you just how much this brudda can sing. We know by now that he’s a bit of an old soul, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he borrows heavily from 90’s R&B, of course still adding elements of trap and dark synths that remind you of late nights with the lights down low. ‘Inhale’ is perhaps the best example of this. It could’ve been titled ‘A 90’s love song’ and still been accurate. He’s super talented and in tune with the music he wants to make – really top level artistry.

Production does not stray too much from Tiller’s usual M.O. That is not to say that his songs sound the same. In fact, with ‘Anniversary he manages to achieve something truly impressive and indeed indicative of an artist who has tirelessly honed his craft. He has managed to carve out a familiar sound on all three of his projects so far, yet all of them are unique in their own ways. ‘Exchange’ and ‘Timeless Interlude’ do sound like songs from the same artist, but he somehow manages to come in different on both and that shows how much attention he pays not only to music, but to his own music.

Tiller has never been one to go crazy on features, true to his reclusive nature, and the only one you can find throughout ‘Anniversary’s’ 31-minute runtime is the Drake-assisted ‘Outta Time’. Alongside the feature, he revealed that Drake was also supposed to be a surprise feature on ‘Trapsoul’ but due to one thing or the other it was not able to materialise. It is easily one of the best tracks on the album, with the two complimenting each other so well you would think this was their tenth collab and not the first. They dovetail into each other’s verses with grace and a breezy ease. Drop a tape together and stop teasing already, guys.

It’s really damn hard to find the balance between cohesion and repetitiveness, as it is often a very thin line that separates the two, but on ‘Anniversary’, Bryson Tiller manages to achieve this with aplomb, showcasing exactly why his fans always look forward to his new music with great expectation.

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