ALBUM REVIEW: Slayyyter, Troubled Paradise
Editor's Note: I way overrated this album because I drank a Monster at 3AM during a night shift and this shit was pumping me up. Riding home on my Piaggio scooter was similarly pretty thrilling, especially with "Self Destruct" playing. However, now that the dust has settled, this kind of just feels like a lesser version of a Charli XCX record with production that often outshines the artist, in my opinion.
To me, the best hyperpop and bubblegum bass albums mine the sounds of the past and put an original spin on it. For Bladee’s recent Good Luck and The Fool LPs, his producers took ethereal ‘00s rave soundscapes and added elements of trap, giving him a poppy bed of sound to dive deep into lyrical themes of nirvana and salvation. On Charli XCX’s excellent Pop 2, she used the mixtape format to have a free-for-all with talented guests including Dorian Electra and Carly Rae Jepsen over dazzling PC Music production. Too many modern artists repping this genre think that all you have to do is just get a Dylan Brady-type beat and pitch up the vocals, but there is just so much more that goes into it. Slayyyter is not one of those artists, she understands her strengths as a provocateur and a femme fatale, and the production follows suit. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, a song like “Daddy AF” should give you everything you need to know. “I been fuckin’ models, I been poppin bottles, all night...put it on your face boy, alright” she sings just before a dubstep-style drop.
For her debut album, she keeps the same energy that put her on but comes with a more varied sound palette. Straying away from her comfort zone works out for the majority of the run time, but works against her in certain ways too. With an album called Troubled Paradise, I thought she’d make the same mistakes Rico Nasty did on Nightmare Vacation. That is to say, we don’t need anything but ecstasy-laced rave music from Slayyyter, we don’t need the obligatory slow piano ballad or acoustic sad jam. Thankfully, she only makes that mistake on the limp and unnecessary closer, “Letters”, which I pretend doesn’t exist. Getting too conceptual also leads to bad music on this album, particularly on the corny “Cowboy” and the missed opportunity that is “Serial Killer”. The latter is my least favorite song on the album, for some reason she decides to knock off No Doubt with a dub-rock track about her boyfriend “eating her for dinner”.
Thankfully, everything else on here is packed with personality and on more substances than you can count on four hands. The opener “Self Destruct” is pummeling, the beat from Wuki pulls absolutely no punches, and neither do Slayyyter’s lyrics. She’s like the JWoww to Ashniko’s Angela as she screams “I WILL FUCKING WILL YOU IF YOU TRY TO TALK TO ME!!!” Great openers only matter if what follows is in a similar vein and is better, and that’s exactly what happens. “Venom” is equally as powerful, and Slayyyter continues to scam, snort and sex over a surprisingly dynamic beat that reminds me of “Trophy” by Charli XCX. “Throatzillaaa” is about as no frills as you could imagine, it’s a blowjob anthem with a hardstyle beat, a perfect lane for her. At this point on the album, I decided to dub her as Charli XXX, rapping and flexing similarly to her but with way more malice and hedonistic leanings. I love this genre because an artist will “copy” another and start a new style, and then the original artist will collab with them a week later. It's such a community focused and constantly building landscape.
I don’t particularly get tired of the sexual lyrics, but I guess Slayyyter doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, which is admirable. Her non-explicit songs on here are not only “not bad”, they’re incredible. Although “Butterflies…” is kind of short, it has one of my favorite beats here, the driving four-to-floor drums and techno hi-hats are in lockstep with her floating vocals and hip-house bars. “Troubled Paradise” and “Clouds” are pure Spears/Aguilera worship, but they’re also fucking great pop tracks. The former is particularly stunning, the ‘80s style drum machine and synth combo is a thrill from start to finish, and Slayyyter is not only believable as a pop star, she has the vocal chops to back it up. It’s really nice to see a vulnerable and insecure side of her, it gives her a more fleshed out character arc. Sure, if she doesn’t fuck with you she’s going to kill you, but if she falls in love with you, you unlock an alternate side of her that you get to hear over heavenly rave beats. (I also wanted to point out that “Over This!” is a better and more emotionally full version of “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo.) Slayyyter went from novelty artist to a legitimate threat with this record, and we love to see it.