Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, is perhaps better known for his collaborations with an impressive multitude of artists, rather than for his solo work. The multi-talented bass guitarist, producer and singer has a quite frankly ridiculous external discography on which he features – with notable recent ventures including studio time spent with the likes of Childish Gambino, Flying Lotus and most successfully, Kendrick Lamar.
Receiving countless credits for both his musical and production skills in Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece, To Pimp a Butterfly (which was recently archived in Harvard’s Library), Bruner’s contribution to ‘These Walls’ was particularly well received; with the track going on to earn him a Grammy for ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’ at last year’s awards ceremony.
With his own three previous studio albums being critically acclaimed, yet arguably unable to cause a stir in the mainstream, can Bruner put a cat among the pigeons with Drunk?
A somewhat unconventional title for an album, Drunk is meant to be both humorous and serious – with Thundercat stating: “it’s been a bit inspirational – the drinking. It has its ups and downs and everything, but I felt like it showed the human side of what goes on behind things.”
A behemoth of a record – in the best possible way – Drunk‘s 23 tracks emphatically explore the mind of an undoubtedly talented artist; with short and sweet tunes exquisitely complimented by more substantial tracks and guest appearances, Drunk provides an absolute feast for the ears.
After seamlessly flowing through a number of funky opening numbers – including fan-favourite ‘Bus In These Streets‘ – the listener arrives at lead single, ‘Show You The Way‘. Featuring iconic musicians Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald – two of Thundercat‘s heroes – Bruner describes the track as “about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place …The point is how weird things can get. I feel like it’s very funny that, in a way, of course Michael McDonald and Kenny would be there.”
Following on directly from this comes ‘Walk On By‘, which Kendrick Lamar graces with his presence. After a relatively slow opening, Lamar takes the reins, adding masterful lyricism that packs a punch while following the funk-ridden ebb and flow of Bruner’s beat.
The next portion of the record includes another favourite among Thundercat‘s listeners, ‘These Changes‘, as well as a cameo made by Wiz Khalifa on the aptly-named ‘Drink Dat‘ – before the concluding set of tracks. Pharrell’s liquid-silk vocals adorn ‘The Turn Down‘, before ‘DUI’ provides a fittingly multi-instrumented end to the album – leaving the listener with a smile on their face, rather than a hangover.
Drunk is released on 24th February on CD / Digital formats via Brainfeeder, with the vinyl format following on 10th March 2017.
You can catch Thundercat in the UK on the following dates, with tickets available here:
22nd March – Bristol
23rd March – Manchester
24th March – Liverpool
25th March – Glasgow
28th March – London
Words by Jonno Mack