By Leo Debatin, Contributor
[Atlantic Records; 2021]
Key tracks: “Die Slow”, “Insure My Wrist”, “Love You More”
Two years after Young Thug‘s debut album So Much Fun, Thug returns with his most recent album Punk. Despite its name, Punk is not what an average person would consider a punk album. In fact, most would consider it the opposite of a punk album. Young Thug justifies his reasoning for this name in a recent interview with The FADER, where he explains: “[Punk] means brave, not self-centered, conscious. Very, very neglected, very misunderstood. Very patient, very authentic.”
Read more: Album Review: Young Thug – I’m Up
Young Thug’s definition of punk might be best shown on the intro track “Die Slow”, a more introspective track that successfully sets the tone of the album. The track mostly uses a guitar with a plastic-like timbre, allowing Young Thugs’ vocals to effortlessly float over the instrumental. The plastic-sounding guitars are present on a multitude of tracks throughout the whole album, which allows this album to sound very consistent throughout its hour-long run time. Surprisingly, the album cover also complements this almost plastic-soul aesthetic. Another standout track that embraces this plastic feel is “Love You More”, a song reminiscent of something that Elton John could have written. The heavily manipulated vocals by Nate Ruess are pretty strange on this track, but they manage to fit with the overall artificiality of the album.
However, Punk has a plethora of flaws. The simplicity of this album, while pulled-off well on other projects by Young Thug like JEFFERY or albums from similar artists like Playboi Carti, is a detriment to this project. The frequent usage of guitars, while giving the album a more laid-back vibe, end up acting as a double-edged sword, as most of the album lacks textural complexity. As a result, many of the tracks on the album feel like filler songs. Punk is also way too long, to the point that if the tracklisting was cut in half, it would likely be much more enjoyable as a whole. There are also some mixing issues present on this album, like on the track “Scoliosis”, which would be one of the better moments on the album if it had been mixed more effectively.
Young Thug’s Punk is not that bad, but it definitely doesn’t reach the sonic highs that were present in his previous works like JEFFERY or Barter 6. Culturally speaking, the album will likely be forgotten pretty soon, as it’s lacking in the experimentation that was present in some of Thug’s older work and doesn’t contain much in the way of huge hits. Overall, Punk comes off as a filler album and a disappointing step in his career.