Anderson Paak’s Malibu is incredible. This multi-disciplined singer, rapper, songwriter and producer has been living a breakout year, appearing on tracks by Schoolboy Q, Kaytranada, Snakehips and Mac Miller to name but a few. Malibu, with its flavoursome grooves and relatable hooks, is the type of album you’ll want to listen to from end-to-end, and shout about to all your friends.
The songs here talk of family and responsibility (‘The Bird’), resilience and self-reliance (‘Put Me Thru’). And there’s also a whole lotta love (‘Room in Here’), and love games (‘Without You’), here. Stylistically, the sound is a potent retro-future – think Thundercat, Dam-Funk – with production from 9th Wonder, Pomo, DJ Khalil, Callum Connor and Paak himself. This combination of Mile Davies-esque jazz, James Brown funk and disarming Smokey Robinson vocals is outstanding.
However, as soulful and progressive as much of Malibu is, some of Paak’s lyrical content remains in the wheelhouse of hip hop machismo (‘Your Prime’), which may turn off some listeners from the character of the man. Still, if you can live with that, there’s hours of joy to be found in Paak’s songs: ‘The Season / Carry Me’ is perfection in its wonky rhythm and tale of great expectations, ‘Am I Wrong’ percolates with its Jnerio Jarel space-funk, and closing gospel grooves, ‘Celebrate’ and ‘The Dreamer’, could make even the most promising motivation tape redundant.
Instrumentally, not since Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid have I come across a combination of retro-future funk and soul that flows with such effervescence. Occasional objectifications aside, Paak’s verses are satisfyingly illustrative (“When I cracked the cookie all it said was keep dreaming”). Malibu is an album you’ll want to spin when life is at its toughest. But you’ll also want to spin it before a date, at barbecues with friends, and a plenty of other good times. Malibu is the stuff of life and, listening to it, you may be inspired to do a lot more living of your own.
Malibu is out now on Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/Empire.
Image: Facebook/Anderson Paak