Quite a lot has changed for Flying Lotus since the release of Until The Quiet Comes in 2012. He donned a mask and released an experimental rap album as Captain Murphy. He had his own radio station on Grand Theft Auto 5 & toured the world with his truly unique live show, which also earned him a spot designing the Yeezus tour. With a family tree that goes back to John Coltrane, it is no surprise that he has decided to venture further back into his jazz roots on You’re Dead!. He has somehow found the time to create an interesting concept for an album that may not excite at all times, but stays consistently enthralling and willing to explore new territory.
The concept and overall theme is death and over the course of 19 tracks Flylo interprets what the afterlife might sound like. The first few tracks are fittingly turbulent, using scattered, sped up jazz to sonically depict the mind’s racing thoughts in the first five minutes after death. ‘Never Catch Me’ breaks the mould a few tracks in with Kendrick Lamar delivering a solid verse over the trippy, piano led production.
It changes pace at the midway point, taking a more laidback approach for a few of the more accessible tracks on the album. ‘Siren Song’ & ‘Turtles’ prove that he is just as good at providing easy listening as he is at guiding the listener through a ‘Descent Into Madness’ with the help of Thundercat.
‘The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep’ is a disappointing, albeit suitably eerie reappearance of his villainous alter ego Captain Murphy. Usually it can be easy to relish in the weird and wonderful sounds of Flying Lotus, but this is the only track that is let down by sheer obscurity. ‘The Protest’ finishes things on an anti-climactic note, leaving the listener seeking closure on the album’s concept, perhaps its intended purpose.
Shortening the length of the average song in comparison to previous releases offers briefer and more enticing glimpses of his genius, rather than the extended and more repetitive. However, the theme of death feels slightly unexplored throughout. Several tracks resonate with the album’s concept perfectly, while others fail to hit the mark. It still manages to evoke thought and emotion, but feels too close to greatness to stop there.