For better or for worse, Vibes could not be more of a fitting name for Theophilus London’s sophomore album following his 2011 debut, Timez Are Weird These Days. London’s signature electro-pop sound is the basis of the project and is prevalent throughout every track. On the highly-anticipated effort, listeners can expect the Trinidad-born American rapper to bend multiple genres, including post punk, soul pop, and R&B, while giving the album an overall 80s feel.
Right away the songs’ energies flow incredibly well together, and within the first couple seconds of each song, heads will bop to the dreamy production. However the music’s pitfall is that it may be so hypnotic that the lyrics’ meaning and power are lost or overlooked. This arguably limits the ability of the album to contain many notable stand-alone tracks.
Another Vibes contributor may overshadow Theophilus London himself – that being executive producer Kanye West. West’s fingerprints are all over this album from the beginning. The first three songs “Water Me,” “Neu Law,” and “Take And Look” have an abstract, Yeezus-esque aggression, although it is slightly more refined. Nevertheless, the aforementioned songs mesmerize as Theophilus croons about love, loss, pain, and power, as well as finding happiness and satisfaction. It is on the Kanye-featured lead-single “Can’t Stop” where listeners get to celebrate and hear the two emcees trade bars about their experience in finding the perfect women over a one-of-a-kind, drum-heavy instrumental. “Can’t Stop” finds Kanye at an all-time, braggadocious, sarcastic high that only Kanye can achieve.
The progression of the album after “Can’t Stop” is quite up-beat and somewhat hipster-ish. Here we find a more confident and suave Mr. London, somewhat flaunting the roller coaster that is his love life. “Heartbreaker” has an incredible retro feel that ignites me to win back the love of my life on a dance floor wearing something out of Michael Starsky’s closet. “Do Girls,” a song about London convincing a lesbian to sleep with him, is humorous and begs to question the depth of the artist. There is not nearly enough clear communication of what Theophilus is thinking; frankly, when he is open and transparent it is sometimes hard to understand what he is talking about. In the song “Get Me Right,” in reference to an experience with God while having sex, London raps:
“What you want? What you got? What you got? What you wanted?/
I can feel the force take over/
From the back to the front/
And the boys and the girls from the future/
Bring us back all the love/
Indigo baby I stuck in the misses/
Ink it to farm it, the electric connections .”
I don’t doubt that the Theophilus is strongly in touch with his inner thoughts and emotions, but he could actually be so in touch that it may be difficult to express them readily to the common listener. He does, however, have a good and maturing knack for melody and hook writing.
If you grab the edition with the added bonus track, Theophilus London’s sophomore effort fittingly ends with “Figure It Out.” The young man has clearly lived a tumultuous life filled with excitement and hurt, as shown throughout Vibes. In sum, Theophilus London will continue to develop and progressively work on his craft. There is great room for success and Vibes offers a good glimpse of that bright future.
1) Water Me
2) Neu Law
3) Take And Look
4) Can’t Stop (feat. Kanye West)
5) Get Me Right
7) Do Girls
8) Tribe (feat. Jesse Boykins III)
9) Smoke [Interlude] (feat. Soko)
10) Smoke Dancehall
11) Need Somebody (feat. Leon Ware)
12) Figure It Out (feat. Devonte Hynes & The Force MD’s) [Bonus Track]